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Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney (6 mins)
Kaitlin-Sopoci-Belknap, Campaign Co-Manager for Measure T (19 mins)
John Bonifaz, Attorney and Founder of the National Voting Rights Institute (17 mins)
James Faulk, Times-Standard
EUREKA -- Likening the effort to pass Measure T to the historic Boston Tea Party, initiative organizers led a meeting Tuesday in support of their effort to ban non-local corporations from giving to local elections.
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, a campaign manager for Measure T, said the Boston Tea Party was really a demonstration against corporate power in the form of the East India Company. Measure T is a similar reaction to the flexing of corporate muscle in recent local elections, she said.
The highlighted speaker of the evening was John Bonifaz, founder of the National Voting Rights Institute, now their general counsel, and Democratic candidate for secretary of state in Massachusetts.
He said he was proud to stand in support of Measure T because it would signal the community and the rest of the nation to take the democratic process back from corporate money interests.
”The people come first, corporations second,” he said.
The system has turned into a process by which big corporations and donors preselect issues and candidates, he said. The people are only allowed to vote on those selections, he said. Money is not tantamount to speech, he said, it is an amplification of speech.
Courts have ruled that it's not OK to drown out other people's speech, and that's what corporations are doing, he said.
He said he was confident that Measure T would pass legal muster because there is a proven track record of corporations trying to pervert the political process locally -- Wal-Mart and Maxxam, during the attempted recall of District Attorney Paul Gallegos.
There is a window in the law that allows local governments to restrict that behavior, he said.
If Measure T occurred in a vacuum, without such earlier cases of corporate influence, it would be a much harder sell, he said.
He also said the court has traveled in the direction of allowing limits on corporate political giving if it preserves the integrity of local elections.
”It's time to reframe this and make clear that citizens have rights to reclaim their democracy,” he said.
District Attorney Paul Gallegos, running for re-election, also spoke on behalf of Measure T.
He said the founding fathers declared that human rights come from a creator and pre-exist government. He said that if rights pre-exist government, and corporations are a creature of government, then how does the government have the right to confer rights on a corporation?
”We need to correct this wrong to our rights,” he said.
He said the only legitimate power in a democracy comes from the people, not from corporate money and influence.
”Let's stand up,” he said. “It is our challenge.”
Humboldt County Leaders Endorse Measure T!
Democratic Party of Humboldt County
Green Party of Humboldt County
Central Labor Council of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local #1684
Building and Construction Trades of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
Carpenters Union Local #751
Operating Engineers Union Local #3 AFL-CIO
Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney
Peter LaVallee, Eureka Mayor
Chris Kerrigan, Eureka City Council
Dave Meserve, Arcata City Council
Harmony Groves, Arcata City Council
Paul Pitino, Arcata City Council
Bob Ornelas, Former Arcata Mayor
Connie Stewart, Former Arcata Mayor
Elizabeth Conner, Former Arcata City Council
Julie Fulkerson, Former Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
... and hundreds of other individuals and local businesses! Join us today!
Learn more about Measure T in a Pros and Cons Video, produced by Eileen McGee (51 mins)
Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights