Friday, December 31, 2010

Fracking’ issue tests citizens’ authority

Letter to the Editor
Canton Repository
Posted Dec 30, 2010 authority

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Greg Coleridge, Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee
14. December. 2010

Thank you for sponsoring this hearing to listen to community concerns. I encourage you to support enacting an ordinance prohibiting gas drilling in your community.

The discussion and debate surrounding the issue of hydralic fracking in Plain Township is more than simply about drilling for natural gas. It’s also more than about water contamination associated with drilling. It’s even more than about property values and road safety connected to increased truck traffic.

The core issue is about democracy, about self-governance. It’s about whether the citizens of Plain Township and their elected Trustees have the authority to protect their citizens or not. It’s at root whether citizens have the right to decide by ordinance what a gas drilling corporation can and cannot do to protect the health, safety and welfare of their community.

Who (or what) possesses more power? Citizens? Or corporations?

Claims that drilling corporations have some god-given, cosmic or legal constitutional right to do what they want, when they want, and where they want is an assault on We the People’s right to protect our own community -- politically, economically and environmentally.

Throughout history, corporations have escaped democratic control in three different ways:

1. By working to shift decision making from one political level to another (local to state, state to national, national to international). Drilling corporations have done this by working to pass a state law removing the right of local communities to control gas drilling.

2. By working to shift decisions from the legislative level to regulatory agencies – which are easier to influence. The compliant and corporate friendly…and funded… Ohio Department of Natural Resources is Exhibit A on this front, and,

3. By shifting decision making from the legislative arena to the courts – where judges can be easily influenced to buy into the ridiculous notion that corporations have same constitutional Bill of Rights protections as human beings.

Citizens are waking up. Local public officials are waking up. People are tired of being pushed around, led around, and given the run around by corporations.

The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator. We the People through laws and charters create corporations. They are legal creations of government provided with privileges to do what we feel will serve the common good. They’ve not been given permission to tell us what to do or how we should run our cities, villages and townships.

I applaud the efforts of Plain Township to consider passing an ordinance that asserts the Township’s right to decide what the people of Plain Township, not some outside gas drilling corporation, considers best for protecting the health, safety and welfare of your community.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Economic [In]Justice By the Numbers/Call Congress

·     Percentage of America’s net worth (source: Economic Policy Institute) owned by top 1%: 34
·     Percentage owned by top 10%: greater than [ > ] 70
·     Percentage owned by bottom 90%: 29
·     Percentage of income controlled by top 1% of Americans in 2007: 24
·     Percentage of total increase in American incomes from 1980-2005 that went to richest 1%: > 80
·     Number of times as much on average CEOs of largest US companies earned in 1980 compared to average US worker: 42
·     Number of times in 2001: 531
·     Amount generated (according to the Congressional Research Services) if Estate Tax is capped in 2011 at 35% after a $5 million tax free allowance: $11.2 billion
·     Amount generated if Estate Tax is capped at 45% after a $3.5 million tax free allowance: $18.1 billion
·     Amount generated if the current 55% Estate Tax is maintained: $34.4 billion
·     Amount of record profit posted by US corporations (source: Bureau of Economic Analysis) during third quarter of this year: $167 billion
·     Percentage increase from same time last year: 28
·     Current US unemployment rate (due in large part to corporations not creating US jobs): 9.6%
·     Number of unemployed workers for every new job created: 5
·     Number of people unemployment benefits lifted out of poverty in 2009: 3 million
·     Percentage worse off current recession would be (source: Labor Dept study during Bush administration) without unemployment insurance (UI): 18
·     Amount of jobs preserved in each quarter by continuing unemployment insurance: 1.6 million  
·     Number of dollar increase in economic activity for every dollar spent on UI: 2
·     Total amount of tax cuts to those with incomes above $250,000 per year (according to Tax Policy Center) if Bush cuts are continued: $700 billion
·     Average tax cut of richest .1% if Bush cuts are continued: $370,000
·     Recently released total of bailout by the Federal Reserve to US and foreign banks and corporations during the economic crisis: at least $3.3 trillion

“My point [is] that the wealthiest plutocrats now actually control a greater share of the pie in the United States than in historically unstable countries like Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Guyana…I’m appalled by our growing wealth gaps because in my travels I see what happens in dysfunctional countries where the rich just don’t care about those below the decks. The result is nations without a social fabric or sense of national unity. Huge concentrations of wealth corrode the soul of any nation…I don’t know if that makes us a banana republic or a hedge fund republic, but it’s not healthy in any republic.”
-      Nicholas Kristof, New York Times (Plain Dealer, 11/21/10)


Call Senators Brown and Voinovich using the US Action Congressional Hotline 1-866-606-1189

Extend unemployment insurance through 2011.
Don’t extend tax breaks for rich.
Don’t cut estate tax on wealthy.
Bail out people, not Wall Street banksters. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tell Sen. Voinovich to Pass the DISCLOSE Act

The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in January allowed corporations to divert money from their treasuries to influencing elections -- specifically for so-called independent "issue ads." Most of these contributions/investments went to front groups so that corporations didn't have to disclose their identity or amount.

The Supreme Court ruled, however, in
Citizens United by an 8-1 margin that existing disclosure laws (meaning those who contribute/invest in political campaigns) should be required to reveal the size and source of the funds.

This last point was largely ignored as well over $100 million in shadowy funds poured into the fall elections.

Earlier this year, the House passed the DISCLOSE Act which would shed light on these secret contributions/investments. The Senate now needs to do the same. Provisions of the Act are below.

Call or fax Senators Voinovich and Brown urging them during this "lame duck" session to pass the DISCLOSE Act. Senator Brown always supports the Act. Senator Voinovich can be persuaded to do the same.

Several of us from Cleveland met with his aide on Wednesday urging the Senator to take one more independent step away from the Republican Party position (most Repubs oppose the Act).

Call Voinovich today!

Name / Local Office Number / Local Fax Number (Faxes are better than calls)
Senator George Voinovich / 216-522-7095 / 216-522-7097
Senator Sherrod Brown / (216) 522-7272 / 216-522-2239

The DISCLOSE Act legislation will address seven major provisions:

1. Enhance Disclaimers
Make CEOs and other leaders take responsibility for their ads.

2. Enhance Disclosures
It is time to follow the money.

3. Prevent Foreign Influence
Foreign countries and entities should not be determining the outcome of our elections.

4. Shareholder/Member Disclosure
We should allow shareholders and members to know where money goes.

5. Prevent Government Contractors from Spending
Taxpayer money should not be spent on political ads.

6. Provide the Lowest Unit Rate for Candidates and Parties
Special interests should not drown out the voices of the people.

7. Tighten Coordination Rules
Corporations should not be able to “sponsor” a candidate.

Posted on Mon, Nov. 29, 2010
Inquirer Editorial: Transparent elections

Time has all but run out for the Senate to take a modest and reasonable step to restore sanity to out-of-control campaign spending.

Although a majority of senators favor the DISCLOSE Act, Republican lawmakers are blocking a vote. The measure, which passed the House last summer, proposes a basic requirement that people who donate hefty sums for election ads identify themselves.

What's wrong with that?

In this year's midterm elections, at least $125 million was donated secretly to defeat or support various candidates. It was the first time in nearly 40 years that such large amounts of secret money influenced an election, for which the blame goes to the Supreme Court's tragically misguided ruling in the "Citizens United" case.

Rest of Philadelphia Inquirer editorial at

Friday, November 19, 2010

Supreme Court to hear whether corpses have PERSONAL privacy rights

The madness continues...actually increases. The hearing of this case before the US Supreme Court is scheduled for January 19, 2011 — two days prior to the one year anniversary of the Citizens United decision. If the court agrees with AT&T, they may change their slogan from “Your World. Discovered.” to “Our World. Secret.”

Thanks to Terry Lodge for forwarding this. His comments with the posting were:
"After all, we don't want to embarrass them by releasing governmental investigatory reports of how we, the people, are gouged, raped, pillaged and poisoned by corporations..... 'Please, mister, it's humiliating to know we had an uncontrolled radiation release for days that will kill thousands of people, and didn't catch it; we'd feel a lot better if you didn't tell anyone....' 'Please, mister, we feel bad enough about poisoning all those wells when we took down that mountain; can't you have a heart?' "

from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 92
November 18, 2010

Secrecy News Blog:


The Supreme Court will decide next year whether corporations are entitled to "personal privacy" and whether they may prevent the release of records under the Freedom of Information Act on that basis. FOIA advocates say that assigning personal privacy rights to corporations could deal a crippling blow to the Act.

The case before the Court -- known as FCC v. AT&T -- arose from a FOIA request to the Federal Communications Commission for records of an investigation of a government contract held by AT&T. The FCC found that the requested records were subject to release under FOIA. But AT&T challenged that decision and won an appeals court ruling that the documents were law enforcement records that were exempt from disclosure because their release would constitute "an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" -- namely, the "personal privacy" of AT&T.

The appeals court noted that the word "person" is defined in the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to include corporations, and it went on to infer from this that the FOIA exemption for "personal privacy" in law enforcement records must logically extend to corporations as well.

But "that analysis does not withstand scrutiny," the government argued in its petition (pdf) to the Supreme Court for review of the case. Personal privacy can only apply to individual human beings, it said, and not to other entities. "The court of appeals' novel construction would erroneously create a new and amorphous 'privacy' right not only for corporations but also for local, state, and foreign governments [which also fall under the APA definition of 'person']."

A concise description of the pending case as well as key case files and amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court by several FOIA advocacy organizations are conveniently available from the Electronic Privacy Information Center . (EPIC prepared one of the amicus briefs and I was among the signatories to it.)

Corporate information that qualifies as a "trade secret" has long been exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. But prior to this case, no court had ever held that a corporation also has personal privacy rights.

If affirmed by the Supreme Court, the appeals court ruling "could vastly expand the rights of corporations to shield their activities from public view," said Sen. Patrick Leahy this week, and it "would close a vital window into how our government works."

"Congress never intended for this [personal privacy] exemption to apply to corporations," he said. "I also fear that extending this exemption to corporations would permit corporations to shield from public view critical information about public health and safety, environmental dangers, and financial misconduct, among other things -- to the great detriment of the people's right to know and to our democracy."

"I sincerely hope that our nation's highest Court... will narrowly construe the personal privacy exemption, consistent with congressional intent," said Sen. Leahy . "Should the Court decide to do otherwise, I will work with others in the Congress to ensure that FOIA, and specifically the personal privacy exemption for law enforcement records, remains a meaningful safeguard for the American people's right to know," he said.

FCC v. AT&T is scheduled to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on January 19, 2011.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Never mind "For Sale"

Pittsburgh Bans Natural Gas Drilling

An example of citizens resisting corporate Constitutional rights. People have a right to decide economically, politically...and environmentally...what goes on in their communities. This is also an example of corporate power based on something other than 1st Amendment Free Speech rights. It's why any effort to amend the Constitution to abolish "corporate personhood" must include ALL Constitutional rights -- not simply the 1st Amendment []

"Provisions in the ordinance eliminate corporate 'personhood' rights within the city for corporations seeking to drill, and remove the ability of corporations to wield the Commerce and Contracts Clauses of the U.S. Constitution to override community decision-making."

Pittsburgh Bans Natural Gas Drilling

A historic new ordinance bans natural gas drilling while elevating community decision making and the rights of nature over the "rights" associated with corporate personhood.
by Mari Margil, Ben Price
posted Nov 16, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lots o' Links of Corporate Assault on Democracy


For those who wish to approach the issue of corporate personhood from a religious perspective...
Do corporations have souls?
October 30, 2010 2:00 AM

Henry Demarest Lloyd's Wealth Against Commonwealth.
[It took former Ohioan John Storm 5 years to convert this 1894 classic to an electronic format. Find the time to read it!]


The Cost of a Vote Goes Up
Published: November 6, 2010

The Re-Education of a Citizens United Denier
The Supreme Court didn't just let corporations in; it created a new kind of money broker.
Mark Schmitt | November 5, 2010

Big spenders: How candidates backed by outside groups fared
By Anupama Narayanswamy Nov 3, 2010

Editorial: Judges and Money
States that hold judicial elections must adopt public financing and strict rules barring judges from cases involving major financial supporters

Economist Joseph Stiglitz: Put Corporate Criminals in Jail

Small Town Declares Freedom from Fracking
Licking Township, Pennsylvania Declares Freedom from Fracking


In January, the Supreme Court strengthened corporations' grip on our government and political process with a dangerous ruling, overturning more than 100 years of election law.
The results of that ruling led to millions of dollars of secret, undisclosed contributions that influenced this year's elections.
To combat the new, unregulated corporate influence over elections, the House of Representatives passed the DISCLOSE Act - because democracy is strengthened by casting light on spending in elections.
It is time for the Senate to act on this critical piece of legislation. Tell Senator Harry Reid to bring the DISCLOSE ACT to the floor of the Senate this year.
More at

For more action ideas. Click on the Take Action link.

Karen Hansen and I will be doing a workshop tomorrow in Columbus at Rootscamp on Ending Corporate Rule in Ohio and the US. If you’re attending, join us!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

5 Observations from the Vote on Akron Ballot Issues

The votes are in. Four of the seven ballot measures (Issues 12-15) passed. Issues 11, 16 and 17 failed.

1. The recall provision of Issue 12 was the poster child to basically gut the initiative and referendum provisions of the city charter. Anger over last year’s recall campaign was manipulated to shield these other “direct democracy” provisions of the charter. The initiative, referendum and recall are 3 completely different “direct democracy” provisions – grounded in state constitutions and municipal charter across the country going back more than a century to enable citizens to “do democracy directly” and keep public officials accountable between elections. The initiative permits citizens to create a law (via signatures gathered on a petition followed by an election) that citizens feel their elected representatives would not otherwise enact. The referendum permits citizens to undo or reverse a law passed by elected officials via signatures gathered on a petition followed by an election. The recall permits removal of an elected official via signatures gathered on a petition followed by an election. Framing the issue about the recall and abuse of it was the tactic. It worked -- as much as those opposed to the Issue tried to inform voters of the initiative and referendum provisions. Still, in spite of it all, Issue 12 only passed by less than 3%. Pretty remarkable.

2. By my count, there were 32 other charter amendment changes on the ballot elsewhere in Summit County in addition to the seven in Akron. Only five were voted down (two in Stow, and one each in Twinsburg, Mogadore and Peninsula). That means 85% of proposed changes passed. That seems about right – as most people sadly don’t pay much attention to their charter – which is the equivalent to their local constitution. Nevertheless, charters are perceived as boring, legalistic and confusing. The defeat of three of seven of Akron’s charter amendment proposals comes to 43% -- nearly three times the rate elsewhere in the county. And this was in the face of the 11th hour blitzkrieg of negative mailings.

3. Voters in the Village of Peninsula were asked to vote on Issue 69. What was Issue 69? It was a vote (for no more than 15 people) of who should serve on the Village Charter Commission – presumably a Commission that will soon meet. Imagine if Akron had elected its charter review commission instead of it being handpicked by the Mayor. The original “problems” and “issues” with the current charter might have looked very different – those addressing the economic and social needs of people and neighborhoods rather than how to consolidate political and economic power in City Hall. Yes, city council would have had to approve the recommendations of the body before anything could appear on the ballot. But a “people’s” charter review commission would have set a very different table for discussion and deliberation than the handpicked commission. By the way, Mansfield also elects their charter review commission. Who knows how many other communities do the same across the state.

4. “Citizens for Akron,” which supported passage of all the issues, raised $86,000 based on their most recent campaign filing. Save Our City, which opposed Issues 11-16, only raised a few thousand dollars. Might the results have been different if there had been a move even financial playing field? “Citizens for Akron” drowned out the voices of Save Our City with their repeated mailings to voters during the last week. The stunning irony of this is that “Citizen for Akron” used their big money war chest to promote, among the issues, Issue 14 – which argued that more political money is needed to increase political competition and educate voters.

5. Speaking of “Citizens for Akron,” who were the fine, outstanding Akron residents loyal to their community who funded the $86,000 campaign to pass Issues 11-17.
$25,000 from First Energy corporation
$15,000 from Goodyear Tire & Rubber corporation
$10,000 from Rubber City Arches, LLC.
$10,000 from GOJO Industries, Inc.
$6,000 from Brouse McDowell, LPA. - Law firm.
$5,000 from Myers Industries
$5,000 from Roetzel and Andress, LPA.- Law firm.
$5,000 from Thomarios.
$2,000 from Cavanaugh Building corporation.
$1,000 from the Daniel Pohl Family Lmtd Partnership.
$1,000 from Cardinal Maintenance and Service Co., Inc.
$1,000 from Cardinal Environmental Services, Inc.
Here’s the originals:!

Not a single Ohioan. Not a single Akron resident. In fact, not a single human being. All are businesses of one type or another. No doubt looking at their “contribution” more as an “investment” – looking to get something in return.

Corporations – at every level of government, more and more dominate politics. Elections don’t by themselves equate to a democracy. If they did, there would’ve been a thriving democracy in the former Soviet Union and in current China – as election turnouts were/are extraordinarily high. What makes a democracy real is when every person has a legitimate chance to have their voice heard and opportunity to shape the decisions affecting their lives.

Corporations increasingly influence elections and corrupt the body politic because they increasingly gained constitutional rights as “persons.” Corporate “free speech rights” in elections is an absurdity. This nation’s founders never intended it. The Bill of Rights was meant to protect human beings, not corporations. Corporate political power must end.

There’s a national and state campaign to (re)assert citizen power over corporate power. It’s called Move to Amend. Go their website ( and sign the petition calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood. The state chapter is Download the resolution calling for abolishing corporate constitutional rights. Take it to whatever group(s) you may be a part of. Get them to endorse it. The only ways to legalize democracy and end corporate rule is when We the People take charge. If you’d like someone to speak before a group you may be a part of, contact AFSC at 330-928-2301.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vote NO on Akron Ballot Issues

The source of all legitimate power of any representative democracy is the citizenry. Not elected officials. Not economic power elites. Not the media. Not self-serving interest groups. But the people.

Therefore, any law or rule that weakens the power of citizens to influence elected officials or diminishes the ability of citizens to directly govern themselves is a threat to democracy and self-governance.

Several issues on the ballot in the City of Akron this November pose a direct threat to citizens and democracy. The following are those which pose the greatest direct threat:

Issue 11 doubles the limit (from $15,000 to $30,000) of contracts that can be awarded unilaterally by the Mayor without competitive bids. City Council would have no voice. Citizens would have no voice.

Issue 12 raises the amount of signatures needed by citizens to place an issue on the ballot from approximately 3,600 to 13,000. That’s more than a 350% increase – effectively shutting down any citizen-led effort to place any issue on the ballot for voter consideration.

Issue 14 abolishes the campaign finance limits currently in the city charter – limits passed overwhelmingly by voters in 1998 following a citizen-led initiative to collect signatures to place the issue on the ballot. The limits would be replaced with higher political contribution amounts and permits city council to establish even higher amounts in the future. Higher political contributions amounts will make it more difficult for citizens without money to be heard and their neighborhoods helped. It also reduces political competition. The Brennen Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law issued a report last year that concluded that lower political contribution limits led to greater political competition. Their report examined elections in 42 states over 26 years. Read the report at

Issue 16 allow the city administration to lease Akron’s steam plant to a private corporation. Previous efforts at “privatizing” the facility resulted in loss of public control and taxpayers having to pay millions of dollars. Keep public utilities public.

Citizens deserve to have greater, not fewer, powers and rights to make decisions over their lives and communities. These ballot issues lead citizens in exactly the wrong direction.

Please consider voting No on these ballot issues.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Most Censored Stories Include Banks/Banking/Currency

Project Censored has listed issues of banks/banking/currency as among its top “censored” news stories the last 2 years — including the #1 issue in both its 2010 and 2011 reports.

Censored 2011- The Top 25 Censored Stories!
1. Global Plans to Replace the Dollar
19. Obama Administration Assures World Bank and International Monetary Fund a Free Reign of Abuse

Censored 2010- The Top 25 Censored Stories!
1. US Congress Sells Out to Wall Street
6. Lobbyists Buy Congress
8. Bailed out Banks and America’s Wealthiest Cheat IRS Out of Billions

Friday, October 22, 2010

Monahan Brothers March into DC - Part I

Here are a few pictures of the arrival of the Monahan Brothers and supporters to DC. We marched from Arlington Cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial for a rally, which included unfurling a 100+ foot long Preamble to the Constitution. The couple of hundred people in attendance were asked to sign -- affirming that the Constitution and Bill of Rights were meant for people, not corporations. Next we marched to the US Capital for a few pictures holding signs. We ended up at a part across from the US Supreme Court holding signs.

More Monahan March pictures

More images are at (search "Monahan")

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Rigor of Research and Fundamental Monetary Change

Greg Coleridge, Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee
American Monetary Institution Conference, October 1. 2010, Chicago, Illinois

Today is not simply the first full day of this conference. It’s also, October 1, the first full day of our nation’s fiscal year. Our country begins today with a fresh budget, a clean slate, a new plan that seeks to match our fiscal blueprint with our social and economic needs. At least that’s what’s supposed to happen. Many years, including this one, there is no federal budget that Congress and President have agreed to by October 1.

Nevertheless, today is as good a day as any to (re)commit ourselves to view our government and economy with fresh eyes and an inquisitive mind. When it comes to economic matters, this includes not simply looking differently at our federal budget policies and federal tax policies but also our federal monetary policies.

For probably everyone is this room, this makes absolutely perfect sense. Budget, tax and monetary issues go hand in hand. Understanding our nation’s politics and economy are directly linked. Seeing the connections between wars and the power, or lack thereof, to directly create or control money by We the People are a given.

But that’s not true for the majority of people in this country. Monetary issues are foreign, alien, cosmic – on the same level of familiarity as understanding the nebulas of the universe. What exactly is money? How is it created? What purposes does it serve? Who controls the monetary spigot? And how does it profoundly impact virtually every other element of our economy, nation and world?

If aware of monetary issues at all, these are questions people ask.

That’s how it was for me. I’m relatively new to this field. I never learned about monetary issues in school, never heard or read about it in the “mainstream” news, never debated whether or how to organize around it in activist organizations over the 25 years of social change organizing.

But then I discovered it. I read. And read some more – including the Lost Science of Money -- twice. I organized others to study and discuss. I helped organize Steve Zarlenga to come to Cleveland to conduct a workshop. We organized delegations to meet with aides to our two US Senators and three area US Representatives – encouraging them to read, study and co-sponsor the American Monetary Act. We’ve shown and continue to show the film Money as Debt. But it’s only the beginning. We’re all only at the start of what needs to happen to bring fundamental change – to democratize our society, including democratizing our money. This is our quest – part of what needs to be our life’s work.

It all begins at the beginning – with study and research – rigorous study. The Lost Science of Money is the single best example produced on monetary issues.

Rigor is the operative word. It means taking the time to widely, deeply, exactly and precisely examine a topic. It’s what I learned from those who launched the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), which nearly 20 years ago began as a group of frustrated activists who were tired of constantly reacting and responding to one corporate assault at a time and decided to step back and examine the state of social change organizing. POCLAD instigates democratic conversations and actions that contest the authority of corporations to govern. Their analysis evolves through historical and legal research, writing, public speaking and working with organization to develop new strategies that assert people’s rights over property interests.

POCLAD began focused on historical and legal research and study on the nature of the corporate form. I became involved a few years after its start.

POCLAD was among the first organized groups to deeply examine the issue of corporate rights. What they discovered was the American Revolution was waged against not simply against the King of England and his Army, but also his Crown Corporations – the Massachusetts Bay Co, the Carolina Co, the Plymouth Co, the Virginia Co and others. Corporations were originally subordinate to the public and their elected representatives. Corporate charters were democratic instruments used to define, not regulate, corporate actions. Legislatures and courts controlled by Democrats and Republicans dissolved corporations that acted in ways not defined in their charters, or licenses. The ability of corporations today to do what they want, where they want, when they want was never intended by our nation’s founders. Corporate behavior not a given. It’s not like gravity or some other law of physics. It can be changed.

POCLAD injected the concept of “corporate personhood” into our culture. They cautioned against the distractions of spending too much time reacting to this or that boycott, pleading with corporate executives to sign voluntary codes of conduct, or working legislatively to slightly reduce the amount of poison permitted in our air or water. Changing constitutional and legal governing rules was more important than changing political faces, political parties, or laws regulating corporate harm. The right to decide and the right to rule by human persons were paramount. The Bill of Rights were intended for people, not corporations -- which are no more than a bunch of legal documents.

As it dug deeper and reflected on what it learned, POCLAD realized the core issue was not corporate power, but our lack of power – our disempowerment. It was about overcoming the “colonialization of our own minds” – that is, that our history and culture limited what was considered possible, practical, and achievable. Gaining and retaining real self-governance should be our ultimate quest. Finally, POCLAD believed that rigorous study and research on this issue was the single most important “action” that needed to be taken -- given the lack of understanding of these issues, including among social change activists. Helping activists reframe strategies and campaigns to address core causes could only happen if corporate constitutional rights was first dissected.

POCLAD produced a definitive work, Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy (an equivalent of sorts to the Lost Science of Money on corporate rights) and other books; a newsletter, By What Authority; and held “Rethinking the Corporation, Rethinking Democracy” workshops across the country.

These messages and lessons from my involvement with POCLAD over the last dozen years is the lens I look through when reflecting on the importance of rigorous study and research today on monetary issues as the essential first step of real social change.

Why begin with rigorous research and study? Six reasons.

1. To know history. We must know what’s worked and what hasn’t; who are our past heroes and sheroes; and what lessons can be applied today. We must know what Aristotle said about money existing not by nature but by law. We must know that We the People actually issued our own money (Continental and Greenbacks) – and that they were effective. We must know how the moneymaking powers became privatized or corporatized in our nation and across the world. And we must know how money backed by precious metals in the past have caused recessions/depressions and placed monetary authority in the hands of bankers and those outside our nation.

2. To understand how monetary issues are connected to other issues. The privatization/corporatization of money is not an abstract issue. It’s connected to our national debt and deficit through the interest incurred from having to borrow money that could be publicly created. It’s associated with taxes, as borrowed money must be paid back with interest. It’s linked to wars and occupations as financial interests have encouraged nations to borrow money to wage wars which create economic dependency. It’s related to the environmental crisis, as natural resources must be exploited to generate the income to pay for the exponential debt that corporatized debt money creates. And it’s connected to jobs, education, health care and infrastructure as government issued democratic money could be issued debt and inflation free if spent on meeting real social and economic needs. This is especially timely since tomorrow hundreds of thousands of people will be rallying in DC calling for jobs and education. Nowhere in the list of One Nation Coming Together demands is there a call for the issuance of debt and inflation free government issued democratic money.

3. To learn what’s happening elsewhere. The corporatization of money has caused economic havoc in nations the world over – from Latvia to Brazil to Iceland to Greece to dozens of others. This has resulted in resistance and alternatives – including resistance to the IMF/World Bank in many nations and the recent alliance of Latin American Countries (ALBA), which launched earlier this year a regional electronic currency - the Sucre. Exciting positive developments are occurring in the US as well -- a case in point being the national Green Party’s Monetary Reform Plank.

4. To avoid becoming distracted by “reforms” which fail to address the core problem. Why Lake Erie, a few miles from where I live, is the most dangerous of the Great Lakes because of its shallowness. Lack of depth on any issue makes one highly susceptible to the latest diversionary “reform” winds that can easy lead one off course. The entire debate around congressional banking reform siphoned off tremendous energy for what in the end turned out to be pathetic legislation that will further consolidate financial institutions and permits the continuation of derivatives and other form of casino financial speculation. Critically important campaigns connected to the effects of corporatization of money, such as working to extending unemployment insurance, placing a moratorium on home foreclosures and addressing the climate crisis, are nevertheless campaigns that focus on saving those who are drowning downstream rather than preventing people from being thrown into the water upstream. Those who promote other forms of financial reform, such as auditing the Federal Reserve, state owned banks and local financial alternatives are also diversionary. There, of course, there are elections, the greatest sinkhole of activist time, energy and resources, where changing faces is often presented as the surest approach to changing fundamental structures and rules.

5. To know how to respond to arguments. Any widespread call to democratize money will result in a plutocratic pushback of epic proportions. Arguments against fiat money have gone on for centuries and have been well chronicled in the Lost Science of Money. Only those who are well grounded from research and study will be inoculated to withstand the intellectual germs from those who claim:
- Government is incompetent, corrupt, inefficient, can’t be trusted, all of the above
- There no historical successes of democratic money
- The Federal Reserve is a government institution
- Banks know what they’re doing – let them be in charge
- The only honest money is money backed by gold or silver
- Let the economists and the invisible hand of market take solve our financial problems.

6. To develop a reservoir of knowledge needed to intelligently create campaigns, strategies and tactics. While research and study are a beginning, they aren’t the ends. Our eye on the prize is the democratization of money and by extension the democratization of our society. That can only happen after we have a firm foundation of the theories, experiences, issues and practitioners. When well grounded, we can then be in a better position to explore how one-at-a-time issues, like the current jobs crisis or climate change or the home foreclosure epidemic can be used as stepping stones to build our cause for fundamental change. We can also better consider how efforts to audit the Fed and local currencies might be complementary rather than competitive strategies in the quest to pass the American Monetary Act. Ultimately, we must popularize this issue if it’s ever going to go viral. This can’t happen unless we develop culturally appropriate educational tools and connect what seems to be an abstract issue to everyday problems.

These are then the main reasons why study and action of monetary issues is critical.

In conclusion, when and where social change movements throughout history have been successful have been when and where at last two characteristics have been present. The first is where people engage in what can be called a deliberate “action-reflection” process – where people in community reflect on their condition, where they’ve come from, who they are, who they want to be, what they want to do. This reflection drives their actions, which, in turn, provides experiences to circle back to reflect on what worked and what needs to be tried next. This action-reflection-action-reflection process never stops. The Christian base communities of Central and South America are maybe the most familiar examples to us that led to a number of revolutionary social and political liberation movements.

The second characteristic of successful social movements is the dual strategies of social change and social service organized by the same people and groups. Gandhians understand this concept well. It means to work on changing macro structures, laws, rules and institutions at the same time as working on creating local or parallel structures that show what can be done if people were in charge. Argentineans call this “horizontalism.” These local or parallel structures serve important meeting social needs, recruitment, publicity, and experimentation purposes. Calling for fundamental structural changes gains credibility and constituents if we’re working to address short term needs through grassroots and democratic monetary projects and groups.

I raise these two characteristics because I feel the drive for profound monetary change, for the democratization of money, has plenty of constructive room for macro action strategies and for micro complementary monetary projects that when added together will create a social movement for real change.

Henry David Thoreau wrote: "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to every one striking at the root."

May our collective work on monetary issues during this new fiscal year and beyond -- of rigorous study and research, of action, of macro and micro, be focused not on branches, but on roots.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Want Real Democracy? Abolish Corporate Personhood.

by Greg Coleridge
Published Yearly by Ohio National Organization for Women
FALL 2010 ISSUE / Editor: Diane Dodge

Disenchantment of public officials spans the political spectrum. More people are frustrated that public officials, from their city councilperson to the President of the United States, don't do what they promise and don't represent them. If this is true, then who do public officials represent? The very wealthy? Absolutely. But also business corporations.

Corporations were created historically by the government via a license or charter to provide goods or services. As a creation of the state, they had no rights, only privileges. The State can revoke a corporate charter if it doesn't follow its terms. They were not equal to persons, but subordinate to them. They were not supposed to rule people. But, that's not how it is.

For the last 124 years, corporations have possessed constitutional rights that have empowered them to rule.

The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 earlier this year to expand first amendment constitutional rights to business corporations. The Court decided in Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission that business corporations didn't possess sufficient political influence, that the political "voices" of corporations weren't loud enough and that corporations need to have greater political power. Citizens United permits business corporations to take money directly from their treasuries and spend it on "independent" political educational campaigns to elect or unelect candidates.

Corporations are not human and possess no human traits. They have no inalienable rights. They shouldn't have constitutional rights.

The bizarre notion that corporations, nothing more than a pile of legal documents, should possess the same constitutional rights, including the Bill of Rights protections, as people began in 1886 in Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific Railroad when corporations were bestowed with 14th amendment equal protection rights.

This was the same constitutional amendment passed in 1868 to provide freed black slaves constitutional rights. Curiously, in 1874 when women argued before the Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett that their right to vote could not be denied based on the 14th amendment, the Court rejected the argument stating the amendment only applied to black males.

"We the People" are supposed to be free, or sovereign. We're supposed to be in control of the government. Governments are not supposed to do anything without the people's consent. As corporations have gained the legal status of persons, they've accumulated rights and become rulers. They increasingly tell the government and We the People what to do.

It wasn't meant to be this way. A national and state movement has been launched to amend the constitution and abolish corporate personhood. has collected over 80,000 signatures of people who are ready to join the modern day movement for self-governance by We the People.

What could change if corporate personhood was abolished? The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILFP) in a flyer "What Would it Mean to End Corporate Rule" lists: 1) Prohibit all political activity by corporations 2) Prevent corporate mergers and prohibit corporations from owning stock in other corporations 3) Inspect for environmental or health violations without a warrant or prior notice. 4) Revoke corporate charters by popular referendum. 5) Prohibit the erection of cell phone towers and chain stores from doing business in your town, county, and state. 6) Require labeling of genetically modified foods.

Constitutional amendments aren't easy. Ohio women throughout history know this. Women were pivotal in the abolitionist movement in helping runaway slaves escape to Canadian freedom through the more than 700 safe houses and "depots" across the state - thus paving the way for the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. The National Women's Christian Temperance Union, founded in Cleveland in November 1874, eventually led to the 18th amendment prohibition of alcohol. The second National Women's Rights convention in Akron in 1851 helped pave the way for the 19th amendment and the right for women to vote.

Corporate Personhood is a disaster for democracy, people, communities and the planet as it has relegated human beings to subordinate status to the power and rights of corporations. We the People have not only the right but duty to abolish Corporate Personhood.

For information on or to become involved in the Ohio Move to Amend effort, email

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Citizens United comes to Ohio

Thanks to the 5 members of the appointed for life US Supreme Court who voted for the Citizens United case back in January, we now have this...

Shackles taken off corporate political donations in Ohio
Spending on 'express advocacy' now is unfettered; direct giving not OK
Thursday, September 16, 2010 02:54 AM
By Darrel Rowland

Unlimited corporate cash can now flow freely in Ohio political campaigns because of a federal court agreement yesterday.

"This is a game-changer for Ohio," said Mike Gonidakis, executive director of the Ohio Right to Life Society, which brought the lawsuit against a state ban on corporate involvement in the elections process.

"Prior to (yesterday's ruling), we couldn't use the resources we had at our disposal," he said. "Now, it allows us to hopefully impact the election this fall."

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said "it's turning into the Wild West out there" because of legislative inaction to regulate corporate cash in politics.

A consent decree signed by U.S. District Judge George C. Smith allows corporations to engage in "express advocacy" for or against a candidate, as long as it's independent of the candidate's campaign. Direct contributions to a candidate or party are still not allowed.

Yesterday's agreement specifically brings Ohio races under the umbrella of the Citizens United case decided by a 5-4 vote of the U.S. Supreme Court in January. The high court declared that a federal ban on corporate spending violated the First Amendment.

The Ohio Elections Commission and secretary of state, who were defendants in the lawsuit, were part of yesterday's agreement.

Brunner said the state law became unenforceable after the Supreme Court decision. Shortly after the ruling, she proposed changes to assure transparency and accountability, but they've been ignored.

Ohio's ban on corporate cash, enacted more than a century ago, was designed "to prevent the corruption of elections and political parties by corporations."

The elections commission agreed this month that independent corporate involvement in partisan politics could no longer be regarded as an elections-law violation in Ohio. The commission asked that corporations voluntarily disclose their campaign contributions, but there is no legal requirement.

"Such a filing would manifest the foundation of Ohio's campaign-finance laws: public disclosure," the commission said.

Philip Richter, executive director of the commission, said he's not sure that dire predictions of corporate influence on elections will come true.

"I just don't see it being this massive infusion of cash from corporations," he said.

Ned Foley, former state solicitor and current director of the election law center at Ohio State University's law school, also was skeptical.

"Whether that is a 'game-changer' depends on whether Citizens United is itself a 'game-changer,'" he said. "It is certainly possible that it is, at least in the specific sense that it now permits corporations and labor unions to do what they couldn't do before. On the other hand, whether as a practical matter it radically affects the dynamics of the campaign itself, that's more open to question."

But Gonidakis said there's even more at stake; the Ohio statute contained a clause that if any of the law was deemed unconstitutional, all of it would be automatically repealed. That means provisions involving candidate disclosure and other key issues could now be off the books.

He said the federal court is scheduled to take up that matter in a few days.

While Right to Life has endorsed some Democrats in legislative races, it is backing a straight Republican ticket in statewide contests.

Dispatch reporter Mark Niquette contributed to this story.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

“One Nation” Organizers Should Remember Coxey’s Army

Organizers and participants in the October 2 national ‘One Nation Coming Together’ jobs march are hoping for a historic turnout of participants demanding good jobs and other basic domestic needs.

The planned Washington DC rally and march couldn’t be timelier with 15 million people in the US officially unemployed and another 11 million who’ve stopped looking for work. Millions of others are underemployed. The resulting collective losses of homes, heath and hope have been devastating.

The financial implosion of 2008 worsened but didn’t spark the massive jobs losses. Free trade, tax and corporate policies were earlier factors encouraging the movement of companies abroad and the diversion of investments from real goods and services to “financial products.”

It’s a bit unclear what the labor unions like SEIU and AFL-CIO and community groups such as the NAACP who comprise the main organizers of the “One Nation” event are calling for to remedy the jobs crisis.

The Obama administration’s earlier economic stimulus wasn’t large enough and didn’t focus enough on hiring people. It also added to the debt and deficit.

This has led to charges by some that the event may be a front for the Democratic Party, which is scrambling to energize their base just before the mid-term elections.

A national massive public works program is urgently needed. Rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul by shifting funds from housing or transportation to pay for jobs, some of the more recent peace and anti-war co-sponsors of the event who comprise what’s called the “Peace Table” are calling for shifting funds from the bloated and archaic military/war budget. Ending tax breaks to the super rich would produce funds as well.

Connecting jobs to budget and tax policies makes good sense. Yet it ignores a giant arena that most people, including activists, never pay attention to -- monetary policies, specifically government issued money to meet societal needs.

The first DC “jobs march” was led by Jacob Coxey in 1894. It was no simple stroll from one national monument to another one on the mall in DC but rather a long-distance trek from Coxey’s hometown, Massillon Ohio, to the nation’s capital in the month of March – not the best time of the year to weather the weather. Five hundred people participated in the march, what Coxey called a “petition in boots.” Inspired by “Coxey’s Army,” others marched to DC from other communities.

What made the march unique was not simply the long-distance or the numbers or the call for federal intervention – but the marcher’s primary demand. Coxey and his Army demanded that the government directly issue $500 million to employ 4 million people.

Not borrow $500 million from bankers -- which has to be paid back with interest and enriching bankers in the process.

Not move $500 million from one part of the federal budget to another -- robbing Peter to pay Paul.

But, rather, print $500 million in government money.

Coxey’s Army members were “Greenbackers” – advocates for re-establishing the policy of the Lincoln administration that financed the Civil War with $400 million of government issued money.

Coxey’s Army proposed two bills. The “Good Roads Bill” would help farmers through $500 million issued by the federal government in legal tender notes, or Greenbacks, to construct rural roads. The “Noninterest-Bearing Bonds Bill” would empower state and local governments to issue noninterest-bearing bonds to be used to borrow legal tender notes from the federal treasury. This money would be used for urban public projects such as building libraries, schools, utility plants and marketplaces.

Coxey’s Army understood money and monetary policy far better than most of us today. Monetary history and experiences have been obliterated from our textbooks and activist cultures for many decades.

Greenbackers were not confused by the many monetary falsehoods used to justify and perpetuate the corporate domination of money creation and circulation in our society today, namely that:
1. Money must be based on gold or some other “precious” commodity
2. Banks and bankers, not governments, can be trusted to control the money system.

The Greenback experience of Lincoln was still known to Coxey and his pro-jobs cohorts.

“Money exists,” as Aristotle said, “not by nature but by law.” What gives money value and credibility is it’s anointment by society – be it a piece of wood, metal, or paper. We the People should have the ultimate power to issue and circulate money, not banks or bankers. The issuance of money should be democratized.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in the US. Money is privatized/corporatized. The private and misnamed Federal Reserve System and banks issue more than 95% of all money in our nation as credit or debt when loans, be they personal or federal, are issued. Money is created literally “out of thin air” by banks and bankers for their own interest – regardless of the needs of society. In fact, banks can loan out $10 for every $1 they actually have “in reserve.”

The starkest example of this was President Obama recently asking, if not pleading, with banks and bankers to provide more loans to help small businesses. Who exactly is in charge of our monetary policies?

The Great Depression was largely caused by the financial ruling class, encouraged by the private Federal Reserve System, making funds available for financial speculation in stocks instead of homes and business expansion. Once the stock market crashed, the same financial ruling class shut off the financial spigot, delaying recovery for years. The financiers have followed the same pattern during the current Great Recession – investing not in real goods and services but highly speculative hedge funds, derivatives and other bizarre financial “instruments.”

With corporate American and the Fed AWOL on the fiscal and monetary fronts, FDR got it right during the Depression to get America working by creating many government programs. He got it wrong, though, by going into debt to do it. He could have issued government money. There would have been no debt and no increased financial (and political) power of banks and bankers. History shows that when government issues funds to pay for vital economic and social needs, there’s little inflation.

Shifting federal budget and tax priorities away from the military and wealthy toward jobs and socio-economic needs of society are, indeed, part of what “One Nation” marchers should advocate both on October 2 and beyond. But their agenda is incomplete if shifting our monetary policies from the corporatization to the democratization of money creation and circulation is not included.

The “American Monetary Act,” proposed by the American Monetary Institute (AMI,, calls for a three-step plan for just this democratization of money. It includes:
1. Moving the Federal Reserve under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury.
2. Eliminating the 10:1 “fractional reserve system” of banks.
3. Issuing government money and spending it on vital social and economic needs.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that $2.2 trillion is needed to address the nation’s physical infrastructure needs. Spending government money on physical and human needs would both improve the nation’s infrastructure and hire people without adding to the debt or deficit or increasing inflation (as opposed to spending money on not needed socio-economic needs like military warfare and economic casino speculation).

“When society loses control over its money system it loses whatever control it might have had over its destiny,” says AMI Director Stephen Zarlenga.

The US Green Party National Committee recently adopted a Monetary Plank in their 2010 Platform that would “green the dollar” as called for by the AMI.

Democratizing money. Greening money. Whatever the name, the most important feature is to shift money creation from corporations (banks) to We the People.

This should be included in the “One Nation Working Together” demands.

It would be consistent with the demand of the first Coxey Army national jobs march.

It would be a vital step to not only increasing jobs but also increasing self-governance.

It’s a mandatory step to controlling our own destiny.

Commemorate Constitution Day • Friday, September 17

Celebrate We the People • Condemn We the Corporations • Connect to Move to Amend

The US Constitution says “We the People,” not “We the Corporations.” Nowhere in the Constitution are corporations even mentioned let alone protected and anointed with human rights to do virtually what they want, where they want, whenever they want politically, economically, socially or environmentally.

Constitution Day, September 17, is a terrific opportunity to take this message to your school, your neighborhood, city or town, or your elected officials. Start now to do something: educate, advocate or organize on that date to say and proclaim that constitutional rights belong to human beings, not corporations.

Action suggestions at

March of the Monahan Brothers through Ohio


Monday, September 13
6:30 to 8 p.m.
First Unitarian Church
536 Linton St. at Reading Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45219
Contact: Dick Bozian 513-521-2391,

Thursday, September 16
7:30 PM
Old Vanmeter Church Street House
178 Church Street
Contact: Kezia Sproat 740-774-3510,

Sunday, September 19
7:00 PM
First Unitarian Universalist Church
93 West Weisheimer Road
Monday, September 20
Action at Statehouse (tentative)
Contact: Karen Hansen 614-280-3631,

Friday, September 24
6:30 PM
First Christian Church
24 West State Street
Contact: John Howell, 740-592-5789,

For more information on the Monahan Brothers and their coast-to-coast march calling for the abolition of corporate constitutional rights, go to

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Target Ain’t People

This is worth watching...

Target Ain’t People!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

March of the Monahan brothers through Ohio

Robin and Laird Monahan, Vietnam Veterans, are walking across the country to raise the issue of abolishing corporate personhood and Move to Amend. Their route is roughly US Route 50. This will bring them to Ohio from Cincinnati through Athens. They're willing to make a stop off-route in Columbus.

Their schedule is as follows:
Cincinnati OH Sept. 13 Monday
Columbus OH Sept. 20 Monday
Athens OH Sept. 24 Friday

They're traveling with a vehicle, so usually only one of the brothers is walking at a time.

At each stop they're looking for a place to stay, an event to speak at, publicity, and fellow walkers.

Let me know if you're willing to host/organize a visit in any of their locations.

We also need to work on stops between Cincy and Athens. Does anyone have any contacts? We should try to at least work on Chillicothe (Ohio's first state capital).

Move information about who they are and their trip is at

Target Targets Pro-Corporate Politicians Thanks to Citizens United

It was only a matter of time before business corpses decided to take advantage of the Citizens United vs FEC Supreme Court decision and open up their corporate treasuries to support corporate-friendly politicians.

The Target corporation, Best Buy corporation, and 5 other corporations have come up with $100,000 each to fund “Minnesota Forward,” a pro-corporate political action committee now running ads in support of Rep. Tom Emmer, candidate for Governor.

That means a portion of your purchase at any one of these corpses will be directed to ads supporting pro-corporate candidates.

Are the Corporate Money Floodgates About to Open?

Abolish Corporate Personhood. Move to Amend.

Join Move to Amend-Ohio listserve. To be added, email David Berenson at

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ACLU to discuss their defense of Citizens United this Saturday in Columbus

The ACLU supported the Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision handed down by the US Supreme Court in January. Their support took the form of the filing of an Amicus Brief, which is a document submitted by a person or group with strong views or interest in the case but not a direct party to it.

The Ohio ACLU holds its statewide membership conference this weekend in Columbus

Among the workshops will be this one on Saturday afternoon from 3:30-4:30 PM

Pay to Play: Repercussions of Citizens United

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has many people dismayed, believing the ruling allows corporations to contribute to political campaigns. Join a lively discussion about the outcome of the decision and why the ACLU supported Citizens United.
Speakers include Scott Greenwood and Daniel Tokaji.

If anyone is planning to attend the conference (or lives near Columbus and could attend), please consider attending the workshop.

The ACLU needs to understand Citizens United wasn’t about free speech but rather about corporate personhood. The unelected, appointed-for-lifers of the Supreme Court falsely framed the case between limiting speech to have fair and free elections vs. approving corporate-dominated political influence to preserve free speech. This false frame evaporates if corporate personhood — the notion that corporations have constitutional “rights” -- is renounced. As corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris has said, “Only if we pretend that corporations are ‘persons’ under the Constitution, is limiting corporate ‘speech’ a constitutional infringement.”

If you can’t attend the conference but are a member of the Ohio (and/or national) ACLU, contact them and express your concerns.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Letter to Senator Sherrod Brown on BP and IEL

26. July. 2010

Sherrod Brown
United States Senate
Washington, DC

Re: Uniontown IEL Superfund Site

Dear Senator Brown,

Thank you for your leadership in speaking out and calling for the British Petroleum Corporation to be held responsible and liable for their role in the horrific ecological and economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

There is yet another disaster connected to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig - a political disaster. The British Petroleum Corporation acquired the authority in the past up to the present time to define the terms of drilling, oversight of the well, capping of the exploded well, and cleanup of the well.

This political disaster of the British Petroleum Corporation being in charge of these functions is due to political campaign investments (misnamed "contributions"), political lobbying, and influence over regulatory agencies (ie, Mineral Management Services, MMS, a part of the US Department of the Interior). The root of the problem is acquired constitutional rights that the BP Corporation and other business corporations have acquired over time.

These constitutionally granted rights have usurped the power of citizens to control their communities, nation, and natural world. The fundamental problem is not corporate power as it is corporate rule.

Your public statements to the media and your constituents concerning accountability of the British Petroleum Corporation is laudable. I hope they intensify to include issues of corporate rule or governance.

A somewhat similar environmental and political disaster exists closer to home in connection to the Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL) in Uniontown, Ohio. The corporate polluters here have also been put in charge of the so-called "cleanup." The regulatory agency here, the EPA, has been compliant to the wishes of the corporate polluters. A real cleanup of IEL has not take place. Those responsible and accountability for the damages, cost and liability have not been brought to justice.

In the case of the Uniontown IEL, each of the three major cleanup components - the groundwater pump & treat system (that was to operate "in perpetuity"), the multi-layered cap to prevent rainfall infiltration of the waste, the expansion of the gas interception control system - have been replaced in favor of continued flushing the site into the area's drinking water system.

Formal public hearings, legal comment periods and EPA written responsiveness summaries were conducted by US EPA per Superfund law prior to the first two components being legally removed from the EPA's amended Record of Decision (ROD). Local citizens opposed both changes to the ROD. Citizens had no input, no due process, however, prior to the ending of the gas control system. This change occurred reportedly at the behest of a corporate polluter.

Shocked and dismayed by this apparent illegality by US EPA, Concerned Citizens of Lake Township (CCLT) turned to your office last year on this issue as well as the serious questions pertaining to radiation /Plutonium issues at IEL. CCLT asked your office to contact investigators and scientists who have provided critical information to the citizens group.

I was therefore very concerned to recently learn that your office had informed CCLT that EPA will not answer the Senator's questions on these basic points regarding when such a hearing/comment period/summary might have taken place on the gas issue, perhaps unbeknownst to the citizens' group.

Experts have cited at least 150 tons of toxic gases generated yearly at IEL. The Agency on Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR - an agency of the Center for Disease Control) expressed health concerns in a 1989 report connected to offsite migration of soil gases at IEL. The report stated: “Significant concentrations of soil-gas may be migrating offsite continually or periodically, but not detected by the present monitoring system…” and “An improved MVS system could intercept all significant quantities of migrating soil-gas.”

I appreciate your staff taking the time to continue pursuing the answers to these questions and others, which affected citizens, certainly deserve. Uniontown’s citizens have long since expressed many of the same concerns now being heard around the country regarding the BP Corporation and compliant regulatory agencies. Perhaps those concerns held are now better understood.

Please continue to raise concerns about the lack of accountability of the BP Corporation and the need for more assertive oversight. The same is called for in our own back yard at the Uniontown IEL and its corporate polluters.

I hope you'll agree the rights and heath of citizens are the most important priorities.


Greg Coleridge
Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee

Friday, July 23, 2010

Opening Remarks at United National Action Conference

Saturday, July 23, 2010

Greetings! Good Morning!

My name is Greg Coleridge with the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee and Northeast Ohio Antiwar Coalition

On behalf of the 31 cosponsoring organizations that comprise the United National Antiwar Conference, I welcome you to this historic national conference to bring the troops home now!

Our deepest thanks go out to the Albany area antiwar, peace and justice community who are our hosts, facilitated by Joe Lombardo.

There are roughly 600 of you in this space and thousands more who are watching the live stream of these proceedings from coast to coast and border to border…and beyond.

Those of us who are physically gathered here in Albany have a unique and privileged opportunity over the next 36 hours
- To actively listen to and learn from each other,
- To grapple together on some difficult issues, and
- Hopefully by early Sunday, to have democratically and inclusively agreed on an action plan addressing issues, approaches and strategies that can be taken back to national, regional and local organizations for their feedback and endorsement to end all US wars and occupations NOW!

This is the third national antiwar conference over the last 3 summers (Pittsburgh last year, Cleveland in 2008). There are a few common threads. Each has been larger in attendance than the preceding one. Each has built on the institutional successes and lessons learned from the last one. Each has served to establish and deepen relationships among activists from broad sectors of the peace and justice community. And each has taken place at a time of rapidly deteriorating political, economic, military and social conditions across the Middle East and rising and creating grassroots protests and resistance in the US and the world to the wars, occupations, attacks and planned assults in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran and beyond.

This last point is significant. Many of you here and no doubt many more watching on their computers have been in the forefront of the varied protests and resistance against the unsustainable US policies toward the Middle East.

Policies of: More troops. More deaths. More money. More debt. More bombs. More injuries. More corruption. More occupations. More drones. More bases. More privatization. More advisors. More dehumanization. More blockades. More environmental destruction. More excuses. More myths. More delusions. More lies. Endless more. When is endless more sustainable?

In response, this past year people here and people watching have organized
- Rallies and marches to immediately end the Iraq occupation in all its forms
- Protests and sit-ins to end funding for the war and occupation in Afghanistan
- Boycotts and blockades of Israeli manufactured goods
- Calls to prevent attacks on Iran
- Flotillas to break the seize of Gaza
- Resolutions declaring that true security comes from spending money on jobs and education, not wars and occupations
- Campaigns to amend the US Constitution to abolish corporate personhood and the legal doctrine that money equals speech.
- And diverse forms of protests and resistance from diverse people who wear everything from military uniforms to keffiyahs to buttoned downed business suits to button plastered hats to marching shoes to anything colored pink.

It is you in this room, hearing this message and others who are not yet activists who are increasingly realizing the madness of it all. The tide is turning. Through actions and campaigns like those just mentioned, these unsustainable wars and occupations will end. They will end. And it will be because of what you have already accomplished added to what strategies and actions that will emerge from this conference

So welcome. Let us begin. Let us engage. Let us grapple. Let us do it with love and respect. But let us not forget our responsibility. To those abroad. To those here at home. To those not yet born who will have to inherit more violence, destruction and waste if we fail to force the politicians and militarists to do what they have not done on their own.

Let us unite. Nationally. As antiwar, peace and justice forces. In this conference. To end the wars and occupations in the Middle East NOW!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Buy Local Week - Voluntary vs Mandatory

July 1-7 was "Buy Local Week" in many communities in Ohio and across the nation.
Buying local promotes not only economic self-sufficiency but political self-determination.

Voluntary purchasing of local products or from local merchants unfortunately cannot be coupled with mandatory purchases by municipalities or states of local products or from local merchants. Preferential treatment against big box stores or transnational corporations violates the 14th amendment to the constitution the moment corporations gained corporate constitutional “rights” in the 19th century.

Such assaults against economic self-sufficiency and political self-determination will continue forever until corporate “personhood” is eliminated. The Supreme Court over the last century granted corporations 1st, 4th, 5th and other constitutional amendment protections. The recent Citizens United vs FEC decision permitting corporations first amendment “rights” to invest money from corporate treasuries for political expenditures is merely the latest attack on what’s left of our democracy.

Move to Amend ( seeks to change the US Constitution to abolish corporate personhood. Corporations are not people. As a member of its national Steering Committee, I invite anyone interested in supporting this cause to join over 85,000 Americans who have signed up to join the effort.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Short video: David Cobb on Abolishing Corporate Personhood

This was produced at the US Social Forum last week in Detroit

Declaration of Independence from Corporate Rule

Ohio Speaking Tour of David Cobb
(Executive Committee Member, Move to Amend; Program on Corporations Law & Democracy (POCLAD) principal; Green Party Presidential Candidate, 2004)
Cobb will discuss the growing national movement to amend the constitution to abolish corporate personhood and create real democracy

Dates: June 28 – July 3
Monday, June 28 / Youngstown
Tuesday, June 29 / Columbus
Wednesday, June 30 / Athens
Thursday, July 1 / Wooster
Friday, July 2 / Cleveland
Saturday, July 3 / Akron


Monday, June 28: Youngstown
7:00 PM, Talk, Lemon Grove Café, 122 W. Federal St.
Contact: Jacob Harver, 330-301-0282,

Tuesday, June 29: Columbus
7:00 PM, Talk, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, 93 W. Weisheimer Rd
Lodging in Columbus
Contacts: Doug Todd,; Karen Hansen,; Michael Greenman, 614-898-5825,

Wednesday, June 30: Athens
7:00 PM, Talk, Christ-the-King Church, 75 Stewart St.
Contacts: John Howell, 740-592-5789,; Dick Hogan, 740-664-4028,

Thursday, July 1: Wooster
7:00 PM, Talk, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 3186 Burbank Rd.
Contact: Dave Sears, 330-262-WNET (9638),

Friday July 2: Cleveland
7:00 PM, Talk, Unitarian Universalist Society, 2728 Lancashire Rd., Cleveland Heights
Contacts: Lois Romanoff, 216-231-2170,; Greg Coleridge, 330-928-2301

Saturday July 3: Akron
10:00 AM, Talk, Maple Valley Branch Public Library, 1187 Copley Rd., Akron
Contact: Mary Nichols-Rhodes, 330-957-6167,; Greg Coleridge, 330-928-2301,

Friday, June 25, 2010

Global Economic Crisis to Glocal Economic Alternatives

AFSC Economic Justice Workshop at the US Social Forum.
Here are a few documents that were referred to or handed out.The workshop was
facilitated by AFSC Economic Justice staff Greg Coleridge (Northeast Ohio) and Maggie Fogarty (N. Hampshire)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Integrating causes, groups and people

The first day of the US Social Forum was marked by thousands of people coming together under the themes, “Another world is possible. Another US in necessary. Another Detroit is happening.”

As in Atlanta in 2008, the Detroit USSF began with a spirited 2-mile march integrating the many causes, groups and people who have come from across the nation as well as from many other nations to focus on change.

While many other moments of the gathering (in particular the workshops and some other planning sessions) will reflect the individual work of the hundreds of participating groups, the opening march is maybe the very best time to see and feel the unity of all participants – who desire justice, authentic inclusion, human rights, and peace.

Indigenous people led the march, followed by those in wheelchairs and others differently-abled. Many holding bikes or pushing strollers followed.

There were wind socks and large puppets of Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Ella Baker and Mother Jones. A blindfolded lady liberty and giant earth ball moved precariously down Woodward Ave past a new building, the Michigan ACLU office, the Vietnam Vets Chapter 9 building, the Detroit Opera House, the new baseball field, vacant land and a 20 story high rise with busted window draped with a sign “Move in Now.” There were chants (one of my favorites was a take off from an old one: “Ain’t no power like the power of youth cause the power of youth don’t stop.” There were also drums, bullhorns, an Orchestra and even a few World Cup-like vuvuzelas.

A few of the signs spotted in the crowd:
- Stop corporate greed: save public jobs
- This is people’s territory
- Tax Wall St.
- Dismantle empire
- Money for housing, not for war
- Medicare 4 all
- Stop Israeli’s nuclear weapons
- Jobs not big banker banners
- End corporate rule
- Jobs and education, not war and incarceration
- War is terrorism too
- No US/UN tape of Haiti
- Climate justice
- Clean air for all
- Standing on the side of love
- $650 billion a year for empire or democracy. You choose?
- $ for wind, not for coal
- Support public transit. It’s affordable and clean
- Greed kills
- Alto (Spanish for Stop) Arizona

As stirring as anything was seeing people reuniting with others with hugs and handshakes as well as people meeting others for the first time.

The one chant uttered throughout the crowd throughout the march captured it well: “This is what democracy looks like!”

The march was followed by an opening ceremony with music, poetry, greetings and brief remarks. This is what democracy felt like.

Workshops and strategy sessions start tomorrow.