The Portland City Council yesterday passed a resolution to
Establish as a position of the Portland City Council that corporations should not have the constitutional rights that natural persons possess, that money is not speech and that independent campaign expenditures and campaign contributions should be regulated.
The language in the proposal was developed by the Mayor's staff, working with representatives from Move To Amend, Common Cause, and Occupy Portland. Five representatives from Occupy Portland spoke at the council hearing, and many others were in the audience for support. Occupy Portland generated 600 postcards and over 1100 emails to the Council in support of passing and strengthening the resolution.
From KATU tv: Council, Occupy PDX team up on campaign spending resolution
Shortly after the passage of Citizens United, the group MovetoAmend.org began developing language for an amendment to correct the flawed conclusions of a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court.
In October, 2011, as one of its first public policy actions, the General Assembly of Occupy Portland called for the end of corporate personhood. Occupy Portland established a working group to research and develop a policy. The group found that the MoveToAmend language was the best proposal out there, clearer and stronger than any of the amendments proposed in Congress at that time.
In December, 2011, Mayor Sam Adams published a draft resolution calling for an end to corporate personhood.
The draft proposal contained language that at first seems right, but has a critical flaw. It said that "corporations do not have the same Constitutional rights as people". This statement contains within it the assumption that corporations have some Constitutional rights, just not the same ones as real people. Occupy Portland and Move To Amend both worked hard to convince the staff that the resolution needed to state that corporations did not have any Constitutional rights at all; that all their rights spring from the acts of the legislature, not the Constitution.
In the end, our arguments won over the staff, and the resolution was changed.
We also worked hard to get the city to call for a vote of the people. In the cities that have voted on the issue, it has passed by 75-85% majorities. We wanted the city to put it on the ballot both to make a stronger statement and to provide a way to educate the citizens about the damage caused by the Citizens United decision. We got close: a commitment to start the ball rolling, but not yet a commitment to put it on the ballot.
The Mayor and Council also pointed out correctly that this is not an anti-corporate action; it's a pro-democracy action. There are hundreds of small corporations in Portland and they employ thousands of people. And they probably aren't spending any money on independent campaign expenditures.
Final Draft of the Resolution. (Official document not published yet.)
Of course these resolutions don't really change the law. But they cannot be completely ignored either. FDR said, "I agree with you; now make me do it." Portland now joins New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Missoula, Madison, and Boulder in sending a message to Congress that they must move to overcome the court's decision. We ARE going to make them do it.
You are affirming that our democracy is of, by, for real people, and not a tool of artificial entities created for the convenience of investors.
Corporations are not people and money is not speech.
Now on to the State Legislature!