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Right of Community Self-Determination Greater Than Corporate Power in Court

The petition initiative blocked by the State for ballot qualification that would curb corporate power will be heard on Thursday, November 10th

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Mary Geddry
[email protected]
541-551-1492
http://www.oregoncommunityrights.org/

Eight months since easily collecting the required number of sponsorship signatures for the Right of Local Community Self-Government constitutional amendment, the petition initiative still cannot collect signatures to qualify for the statewide ballot. Blocked by the State, the
initiative will be in court on November 10th to determine if broader petition circulation can continue towards ballot qualification and ultimately the votes of Oregonians.

The Oregon Secretary of State along with the Attorney General’s office made a determination in April that the amendment, as currently written, does not meet the tests for a separate vote and that the initiative is not an amendment but a revision to the constitution.

“The state is wrong here and that will be proven in court”, says Rob Dickinson, petitioning coordinator for Oregonians for Community Rights. ”This initiative is absolutely essential in order for local communities to be able to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their residents. We can’t forget that the Oregon Constitution, in it’s very first section, affirms that all power is inherent in the people and that we have at all times a right to alter or reform the government in whatever manner that we deem proper. Without local community self determination, as affirmed by this initiative, those words are hollow and meaningless.”

Judge Bennett of the Marion County Circuit Court will hear the case at 1:30pm on Thursday, November 10th at the county courthouse in Salem.

The proposed constitutional amendment was drafted by the Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN) and their political arm, Oregonians for Community Rights (O4CR). The Right of Local Community Self-Government constitutional amendment would codify into law the right of local community self-government, enabling the people and their local governments to protect fundamental rights and prohibit corporate activities that violate those rights. It would secure the authority of communities to put in place stronger rights and protections than those recognized at the state, federal, or international level, but not reduce higher level governmental protections or rights.

“With its determination against this initiative, the State is championing limitations on the people’s constitutional power to the initiative process”, says Ann Kneeland, attorney for the chief petitioners. “As such, the Chief Petitioners of the initiative are fighting not simply for a
rightful decision from the Court that this amendment meets all procedural requirements to be voted on by the people, but also for the proper administration of the initiative system that empowers direct democracy in Oregon.”

Securing the right of local community self-government is pivotal when it comes to a community’s right to confront or advance vital local issues such as GMO crops, police accountability, pesticide use, fossil-fuel pipelines, living wage, rent control, or land use without the threat of state-sanctioned corporate preemption.

County-level community rights efforts in Oregon have been underway to confront an array of corporate projects from LNG pipelines to pesticides to GMOs to coal and oil trains. In each community the aim is to adopt a Community Bill of Rights law that secures the rights of the people and nature over that of unwanted corporate harms.

Oregon also joins Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where communities in those states are working to adopt Community Bill of Rights laws on the local level as well as moving very similar state constitutional amendments to secure the right of local community self-government.
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Turmoil in Lane County Again!

As if making them split their Charter Amendment into TWO seperate Amendments wasn’t enough, Lane County Commissioners are trying to become the gatekeepers of democracy. The goal is to end aerial herbicide spraying, while securing rights to clean air, water, and soil, and bodies free from chemical tresspass. This Charter Amendment would also secure Lane County’s right to Direct Democracy, free from interference by large Corporations. However Lane County Judge Calrson saw that as two seperate issues. So they are collecting for both an aerial spray ban, and the Right of Local Community Self-Government. That’s almost 22,000 signatures needed! So if you’re a registered voter in Lane County, please visit their website and download the online signatures sheet and send it in.

And if that isn’t enough, the Lane County Commissioners, at the urging of Corporate Timber interests, are trying to block the voters from ever having a say in that issue. They are trying to give themselves the power to veto Initiatives, before they go to a vote of the people. This is an unconstitutional move on their part, and Attorney Ann Kneeland is on the case! There is an Open Letter to the Lane County Commissions that you can sign. You don’t have to be a Lane County resident to sign. Don’t let the Commissioners of your County become the Gatekeepers of your local democracy!

GMOs Have More Rights Than the People of Josephine County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ORCRN_allpowerFarmer

CONTACT:
Mary Geddry
541-551-1492
[email protected]

Judge overturns ban on GMOs; state preemption used once again to deny right of local self-government

Corvallis, Oregon — May 17, 2016
Yesterday a Josephine County Circuit Court judge denied the will of the people of Josephine County by ruling that their prohibition on GMO crops, adopted at the ballot in May 2014, is unenforceable because a conflict with state law.

The basis of the judge’s decision was SB863, adopted by the state legislature in the fall of 2013 which places all authority over GMO seed in the hands of the state and prohibits local governments from interfering with that state authority. SB863, modeled after similar laws adopted in other states, is intended to protect corporate industrial agricultural practices over that of local, sustainable agriculture.

“It hurts to say so but yesterday’s decision is not surprising”, says Dana Allen, board member of the Oregon Community Rights Network. “So long as we allow the laws that favor corporate interests over people and nature we can expect our communities to be treated as wards of the state.”

“State preemption is but one of a number of corporate powers, privileges, and “rights” used to keep communities in a subordinate position to both state government and corporate interests”, says Kai Huschke, CELDF Northwest Organizer. “Oregon has a long history of preemption whether in agriculture, the timber industry, land use, minimum wage, housing, or health care such that the recognized conventional legal arrangement is that anything of commercial interest is kept in the hands of the corporate state leaving communities unable to make critical decisions about health, safety, welfare, and their future viability.”

Because of SB863 and decisions like the one coming out of Josephine County, a number of local community rights actions have emerged in different parts of the state (Columbia, Coos, Lane, Lincoln) in order to assert and protect the right of the people to govern in their own communities. The mobilizing issues have varied from pesticide use to LNG pipelines to methanol plants, but foundationally each effort is about asserting, through lawmaking, the right of local community self-government both in protection of fundamental rights and the rejection of imposed corporate projects.

“We need to realize that we are all in the same boat and that boat is sinking quickly”, says Michelle Holman, member of Community Rights Lane County. “Whether our issue is human rights, economic rights, protecting the environment, or stopping unwanted development, we have a structure of law that favors corporations over living breathing beings and that has to change.”

Oregonians for Community Rights, the political arm to the Oregon Community Rights Network, is moving a state constitutional amendment to secure and protect the Right of Local Community Self-Government such that authority to adopt law at the community level regarding sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy, sustainable economies, etc. cannot be preempted by the state. The law is a oneway valve allowing communities the ability to increase rights and protections not remove them as recognized by state, federal, or international law. Oregon’s Right of Local Community Self-Government amendment initiative is currently involved in a legal challenge with the state regarding broader petition circulation.

Additional Information
www.oregoncommunityrights.org , www.orcrn.org , and www.celdf.org
https://www.facebook.com/OR4CR , https://www.facebook.com/ORCRN , and
https://www.facebook.com/Community-Environmental-Legal-Defense-Fund-112830808767534/

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Let the People Decide

Submitted by Lincoln County Community Rights

Right now, the right of the people of Lincoln County to decide is under attack.

A judge of the Lincoln County Circuit Court will soon determine whether or not to allow gathering signatures for an initiative petition, based on arguments heard in court, representing the profit-driven interests of industry invested in aerial spraying of pesticides in our county on the one hand, vs. the right of the people to use the initiative petition process to propose new law to protect their safety and that of the environment on the other. The answer should be clear – let the people decide.

The initiative petition in question is titled “Freedom from Aerially Sprayed Pesticides of Lincoln County” and has been put forward by Citizens for a Healthy County. It asks the people of Lincoln County if they want to ban the practice of aerial spraying of pesticides (a practice that has already been banned in federal forests for 30 years) in order to protect our right to clean air, water, and soil and to stop our continued exposure to toxic chemicals.

The judge is not considering whether aerial spraying of pesticides should or should not be banned, but whether the people of Lincoln County can be asked that question through circulation of a petition which could only become a ballot measure if it receives the required number of signatures.

The government of Lincoln County already decided that asking the question is reasonable and should happen. However, on February 29th, the attorney for the party opposing circulation of the petition argued in court that wanting clean air, water, and soil somehow entails a hidden threat to voters; that questioning the authority of industry profiting from aerial spraying of pesticides and the state to force toxic chemicals on our forests, watersheds, and people also entails that threat. Perhaps worst of all, the opposing attorney argued that people wanting to defend their constitutionally-guaranteed rights, even when our government and the courts may fail to do so, is again a threat that voters need to be protected from.

We must let the people decide. The petition must go out for signatures. With enough signatures the initiative becomes a ballot measure. Then the people – not vested interests – and not a single judge – decide. What is at stake here is much bigger than the question of aerial spraying of pesticides. The real issue is our right, as the people of Lincoln County, to govern in matters that pertain to our fundamental rights.

People of all political stripes are sick and tired of having money influence how we vote. If the judge stops circulation of the petition for signatures, thereby supporting the opinion of the attorney opposing our initiative, it means that money can influence not only how we vote, but whether we get to vote at all.

We believe in Article I, Section 1 of the Oregon Constitution, where it declares : “All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.”

We look forward to the judge in this case doing the right thing – letting the people decide. Otherwise, those constitutional words aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

 

María Sause and other members of
Lincoln County Community Rights

Colorado Supreme Court Rules Local Self-Government State Constitutional Amendment Can Advance to Next Stage Toward Ballot

Press Release: Colorado Supreme Court Rules Local Self-Government State Constitutional Amendment Can Advance to Next Stage Toward Ballot

(3/11/2016)

Upholds People’s Right to Initiative from Oil & Gas  Industry Challenge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


CONTACT:
Ben Price, National Organizing Director
[email protected]
717-254-3233

MERCERSBURG, PA:  This week, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed a decision of the Colorado State Title Board, clearing the way for a state constitutional amendment initiative to advance toward  the November ballot. The initiative guarantees the right of local community self-government to the people of Colorado.

The Community Rights measure was drafted by the Colorado Community Rights Network, in partnership with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). As communities across the state face a range of environmental and economic harms – including fracking and livable wage issues – Coloradans are advancing the right to local community self-government in order to secure the rights of people, communities, and nature, and protect against fracking and other activities that would violate those rights.

The challenge to the measure was filed by Tracee Bentley, President of the Colorado Petroleum Council and former Legislative Director for Governor John Hickenlooper, and Stan Dempsey, President of the Colorado Petroleum Association. The full text of the Court’s ruling wasted no ink in ruling against the oil and gas industry’s efforts  to keep the proposed amendment from the voters.

The Colorado Community Rights Amendment is officially designated as “Proposed Initiative 2015-2016 #40.”  The title of the amendment, as designated by the Colorado Secretary of State, is as follows:

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a right to local self-government, and, in connection therewith, declaring that the people have an inherent right to local self-government in counties and municipalities, including the power to enact laws to establish, protect, and secure rights of natural persons, communities, and nature, as well as the power to define or eliminate the rights and powers of corporations or business entities to prevent them from interfering with those rights; and exempting such local laws from preemption or nullification by any federal, state, or international law if the local laws do not restrict fundamental rights or weaken legal protections for natural persons, their local communities, or nature.

“This is a great day for Coloradans, workers, our environment and communities across the state, and a major moment for people fighting the abuses of corporate power,” said Cliff Willmeng, organizer for the campaign. “We will now begin what could be considered the largest volunteer, grassroots campaign for a Colorado state ballot initiative in our state’s history. We aim to make democracy legal in the most important of places – where we live.”

CELDF’s National Organizing Director, Ben Price, stated, “The right to initiative has been affirmed in the Court’s decision, despite industry efforts to quash it. Today, the people of Colorado begin the work to make real the American Revolutionary ideal – and the inalienable right – of local community self-government.”

Coloradans for Community Rights (CCR), the grassroots organization formed to advance the 2016 amendment, has trained over 100 petitioners from across the state. With the Court’s decision, they are now beginning to gather the nearly 100,000 valid signatures necessary to place the measure on the November ballot. Organizations from across the state have endorsed the measure, and will be contributing volunteers.

Colorado Part of Growing National Movement

Colorado residents are advancing Community Rights as part of the broader Community Rights Movement building across the United States. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks across the country are partnering with CELDF to advance fundamental democratic, environmental, and economic rights. They have worked with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit extraction,  fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable.

 

Additional Information

For additional information regarding the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, visit www.coloradansforcommunityrights.org. To learn about the Community Rights Movement, visit www.celdf.org. To read the amendment text, visit here.

 

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

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