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A Powerful Trio

Community Rights Lane County Our Community Our Rights and Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Alliance have been very lucky to co-host three amazing women. If you weren’t able to see them in person, we now have video of all three. Follow the links below and enjoy a wealth of knowledge related to the Rights of Nature!

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Lafayette Community Members Introduce Climate Bill of Rights and Protections

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: January 2, 2016
Contacts:
East Boulder County United
Email: [email protected]
Kristin McLean: [email protected] 303 641-8901
Merrily Mazza, [email protected] 720 556-1286
Legal: Thomas Linzey, Esq, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, 717 498-0054

Lafayette Community Members Introduce Climate Bill of Rights and Protections
What: Lafayette Community Members Introduce Climate Bill of Rights and Protections to City Council, Pledge Environmental Defense of Boulder County
When: Lafayette City Council meeting Tuesday, January 3, approximately 7pm depending on meeting agenda.
Where: 1290 S. Public Road, Lafayette Colorado

The people of Lafayette, Colorado have introduced an ordinance for formal adoption to the Lafayette City Council. The measure titled, “Climate Bill of Rights and Protections” is a law that will codify the right to a healthy climate and community member’s ability to enforce this right through community led, nonviolent direct action.  It is based on the First Nation principle of protecting the environment for seven generations.
The measure will be introduced by two Lafayette City Councilors, Councilor Gustavo Reyna and Councilor Merrily Mazza, at the January 3rd meeting.
If the measure is approved Lafayette will become the second community nationally to adopt such a measure. Grant Township Pennsylvania legalized the defense of their community through nonviolent civil disobedience earlier this year when it was faced with threats from a proposed fracking waste injection well.
Pennsylvania Township Legalizes Civil Disobedience
http://celdf.org/2016/05/press-release-pennsylvania-township-legalizes-civil-disobedience/
The Climate Bill of Rights and Protections is part of the larger effort to protect Lafayette and Boulder County from nearly 2000 possible oil and gas wells. Trainings for nonviolent direct action are ongoing and are seeing capacity levels of participants. East Boulder County United has stated that no drilling will be permitted, and the protection of the environment and climate is an inalienable right shared by all.

“As a mother and a citizen of Lafayette, I’m tired of state and local governments and corporations telling me that I have no rights to prevent my community from being poisoned by fracking. I will protect my family from toxic industry coming into my backyard, and I am standing up for health and safety and my right to local self government.”
– Kristin McLean, mother, Lafayette resident

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Impact of our Consumption

When we think about global warming many of us immediately think about cars and industry ruining the planet, but does this tell the whole story? While transportation, including travel by road, sea and air, contributes over 13% of our annual CO2 emissions there is another factor, which we may not initially consider, but which has a bigger impact.

Figures highlighted by Farm Machinery Locator show that there are nearly 8.3 million cows in the UK alone; cattle which provide us with hundreds of thousands of litres of milk and thousands of pounds worth of beef every day. We often assume that agriculture is natural and therefore can’t be damaging to the environment, but that assessment is wrong.

– See more at: https://www.farmmachinerylocator.co.uk/impact-of-our-consumption/#sthash.9qDMD4ts.dpuf

Thanks James Smith for pointing this insightful page out!

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Mendocino County, CA. Makes History and Passes Law Establishing Local Self-Governance

November 5, 2014

“The sacred rights of mankind, are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records.  They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”   ~ Alexander Hamilton

Mendocino County, Ca Makes History

by Jamie Lee

Mendocino County, in the pristine northern lands of California, where the magnificent ancient coastal Redwood trees meet the inland California Oaks, has voted itself into the constitution writing (righting) business.

Yesterday, by a significant margin, they became the first county in California, and only the second county in the country to pass into law a very powerful local ordinance that declares local self-governing rights in their communities over state and federal jurisdiction. Over 67% of the votes cast were in favor of the measure.

The ordinance provides for waters free from toxic trespass; preemptively bans all fracking activities countywide with heavy fines and penalties for violation of the ordinance; and establishes a Community Bill of Rights to, for, and by the residents of Mendocino County while checking corporate powers as well.

In addition, the newly created law gives the Rights of Nature to exist and flourish without toxic trespass whereas previously Nature had no standing in the court of law.

Here is some of the powerful language in the proposed ordinance which you can read (source):

“Right to community self-government.

All residents of Mendocino County possess the right to a form of governance where they live which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people and all free governments are founded on the people’s consent.

Use of Mendocino County government by the sovereign people to make law and policy shall not be deemed by any authority to eliminate or reduce that self-governing authority. Rights as self-executing, fundamental and unalienable.

All rights delineated and secured by this ordinance are inherent, fundamental and unalienable; and shall be self-executing and enforceable against both private and public actors.”

The people of Mendocino County have made history once again after being the first county in the nation to ban Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) in 2004. Now these Mendonesians of premier wine making, medical marijuana growing and self-declared independence are continuing to assert and reclaim their inherent rights to decide for themselves what the laws will be in their communities and their county.

What may seem radical to many is only following in declarations and rights acknowledged to, by, and for them by the California State and U.S. Constitution’s as well as the Declaration of Independence:

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.

Article 1 of the California State Constitution of 1849:

Sec. 1. All men are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property: and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.

Sec. 2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.

Across the nation a truly grass-roots movement of taken back power by, and for the people at the local levels has begun in earnest.

Abby Martin of RT Int’l TV speaks with Jamie Lee, a farmer and activist, who helped craft a first of its kind fracking ban in Mendocino County, California that gives nature legal rights.

In California, in this election alone, two other counties, Santa Barbara and San Benito, put anti-fracking measures in front of the voters while Big Oil spent over $7 million to defeat them. Santa Barbara was defeated last night but San Bernardino County’s measure passed into law.

Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania have in recent years passed into law local ordinances banning everything from toxic pig sludge dumping to Community Bill of Rights legislation as well as legal standing for the Rights of Nature to exist.  In 2010, the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania made history by becoming the first city to pass a local ordinance banning hydraulic fracking.

So far, state courts have upheld these rights in Colorado and Ohio. However, a bigger challenge comes  in coming months as a federal judge will make ruling on Mora County, New Mexico’s recent local ordinance passed that bans fracking in their county. It will be high stakes for all as over 30% of the states revenues comes from the oil and gas industry.

Yet clearly the people of Mora County are choosing to protect their health and well being over profit, jobs and revenues for their county.

Last week NASA released photos taken from space showing mass methane gas releases from the four corners region of the Southwestern United States, stunning all as to the widespread drastic effects that intense and increasing fracking activities are having on our environment.

Up north in Oregon, Lane and Benton Counties are bringing to vote local ordinances to preempt Oregon state laws for the right to determine local food sovereignty.  Last year, Oregon had preempted local counties from banning GMO’s in their communities. Communities are now empowering themselves and fighting back.

Who is the Author of Authority?

The real basis of the question of the ability of local communities to write laws becomes just who is the final author of Authority?

Put another way, who has the power to make law, the people in the communities, counties and cities where they live or unreachable legislatures and Presidents residing hundreds and thousands of miles away?

Who are backed by huge corporate funding sources, that few can look, touch or feel, yet are called by many to be our “representatives” for what is best where we live, work and breathe.

It is estimated in the United States alone there are some 26 million plus laws, rules, regulations, permits, codes, violations, infractions, et. al., where ignorance of the these laws are not excusable in court and our government schooling never teaches to anyone.

And to enact state and federal laws, the powers that be must really on fear, force, coercion, ignorance and threat of being caged to get their laws obeyed. In other words, they demand obedience and compliance, or else coercion and force may be used no matter how amoral, immoral or destructive the laws may be.

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Ohio Supreme Court Rules Against Secretary Of State

Decides in favor of communities’ right to initiative; bars chief elections officer from keeping duly qualified initiatives off the ballot – even those involving fracking

COLUMBUS, OH:  Today, the people’s constitutional right to vote on local County Charter initiatives was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Court ruled that Ohio Secretary of State John Husted – who claimed “unfettered authority” to keep Home Rule county charter initiatives off the ballot – has no such prerogative.

On August 13th, Mr. Husted blocked citizens from voting on Home Rule Charter initiatives in three counties, declaring, “I find nothing to materially limit the scope of my legal review,” including ruling on the substance of the initiatives. The measures included provisions on fracking infrastructure development, alarming the oil and gas industry. Mr. Husted handed them a victory in his decision to remove the measures from the ballot. In doing so, he trampled on the rights of the people.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Secretary of State on behalf of community members in Athens, Medina, and Fulton Counties, seeking to restore the initiatives to the November ballot.

In addition to barring Mr. Husted from keeping community measures off the ballot based on substantive review of the content, the Court also ruled that, because the charter initiatives did not create a new form of government, they cannot be on the ballot this November. Communities had kept the existing governmental structure intact, while adding initiative and referendum powers to residents.

CELDF community organizer Tish O’Dell stated, “Athens, Medina, and Fulton Counties have triumphed against a government official claiming ‘unfettered authority’ to rule on the content of the people’s initiatives – a dangerous threat to democracy. The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled on behalf of the people, safeguarding their inalienable right to advance and vote on their own initiatives.”

Dick McGinn, Athens County Board member of the Ohio Community Rights Network – a partner organization of CELDF – added,“The Ohio Supreme Court – rather than being influenced by the oil and gas industry – stood by the people’s rights. Communities across the state are celebrating this decision, and are ready to get to work to draft Home Rule county charter initiatives that meet the Supreme Court’s requirements.”

Added Kathie Jones of Sustainable Medina County, “We’re also fully prepared for attempts by the Secretary of State and the oil and gas industry to try and find other reasons to keep future measures off the ballot. But, the people will not quit fighting for their inalienable right to local self-government and the right to protect their health, safety and welfare, even if that means amending the state constitution itself.”

By Emelyn Lybarger

 

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Putting corporate power in perspective

Before America’s colonists declared themselves independent from British domination in 1776, the motherland’s corporations dominated their trade. It took a revolution to end British control and the settlers’ fear of corporate power. Ever since, corporations have played a major role in business, but they could not influence elections.

As the states began curbing big government, the privilege of incorporation was granted selectively for activities that benefited the public, such as construction of roads or canals. Corporate charters (licenses to exist) were granted for a limited time and could be revoked promptly if laws were violated.

Corporations could pursue only the activities needed to fulfill their chartered purpose. They could not own stock in other corporations or own property not essential to their chartered purpose. Corporations were often terminated if they exceeded their authority or caused public harm. Owners and managers of corporations were held responsible for criminal acts they committed on the job. Corporations were not allowed to make political or charitable contributions nor could they spend money to influence legislation.

For a century after the American Revolution, legislatures maintained tight control of the process of chartering corporations. Early on, lawmakers granted few corporate charters, and that only after extensive debate. Not only Congress but also state law set rules governing corporations. Incorporated businesses were not allowed to take any action that legislators had not specifically allowed.

The rules for incorporation limited capitalization, debts, land holdings, and sometimes even profits. They also limited the number of years corporate charters could be held. Unless a legislature renewed an expiring charter, the corporation was dissolved, and its assets were divided among shareholders. Some state laws provided that a company had to turn over its accounting books to the legislature upon its request.

In Europe, charters protected corporate directors and stockholders from liability for debts they may have caused. American legislators explicitly rejected this corporate shield. In the case of Dartmouth College versus Woodward in 1819, the U.S. Supreme Court tried to strip states of their sovereignty by overruling a lower court’s decision that allowed New Hampshire to revoke a charter granted to Dartmouth College by King George III. The court claimed that since the charter contained no revocation clause, it could not be withdrawn.

This decision so outraged the public that new amendments were passed in state constitutions to circumvent the Dartmouth College ruling. Starting in 1844, nineteen states amended their constitutions to make corporate charters subject to alteration or revocation by their legislatures. By1855, the Supreme Court ruled in Dodge versus Woolsey to reaffirm state power over “artificial bodies.” The leaders of corporations, however, pressed on. Arguments over the content of charters turned into battles to control labor and resources, and political power began flowing to absentee owners.

The industrial age forced many Americans — heretofore a nation of farmers—to become wage earners. Becoming unemployed turned into a new fear that corporations quickly learned to exploit. Company towns arose, and blacklisting of labor organizers and workers who spoke up for their rights became common. When workers began to organize, industrialists and bankers hired organizers to keep employees in line. They bought newspapers to paint businessmen as heroes and shape public opinion in their favor. Corporations began buying state legislators and sometimes denounced them as corrupt.

Government spending during the Civil War brought corporations immense wealth. Corporate executives paid “operators” to bribe elected and appointed officials alike. They managed to obtain large amounts of funding from all levels of government. Legislators also gave corporations limited liability, decreased their authority over them, and extended the length of their charters.

The courts made the protection of corporations a part of constitutional law. While corporations grew in strength, legislators and the courts succumbed to the wishes of corporations. They freely reinterpreted common and constitutional law to give them more power.

One of the strongest reversals to the authority of voters and legislators arose out of the 1886 Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County versus Southern Pacific Railroad. While the court did not employ the phrase “corporate personhood,” its decision was used to consider a corporation a “natural person.” From that point on, the 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War to protect the rights of freed slaves, was used to grant corporations constitutional “personhood.” Armed with this “right,” corporations have since increased their influence over resources, labor, politicians, even judges and the law.

A Congressional committee concluded in 1941 that “The principal instrument of the concentration of economic power and wealth has been the corporate charter.”

Many U.S.-based corporations are now transnational, but the powers in their charters remain the legal basis for their existence.

Wolf Fuhrig of Jacksonvill has a doctorate in public law and government from Columbia University.

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