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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)
It's Time for T -- and Local Control of Our Elections
Times-Standard MY WORD By Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap
Andrew Bird wrote a thoughtful My Word editorial (May 19) regarding Measure T -- the ordinance to prohibit non-local corporations and organizations from making political contributions in Humboldt County elections. We want to acknowledge how refreshing it is to have someone express political disagreement in a civil and rational manner. Perhaps Mr. Arkley, Mr. Crawford and the rest of the No on T (NOT) folks might take a lesson from this example.
Andrew reminds readers of the vicious and deliberately untrue attacks leveled against Councilmember Kerrigan in 2004 by a secret group. It is worth noting that the campaign manager for Mr. Kerrigan's opponent was none other than Chris Crawford, campaign manager for the opposition to Measure T. To this day, the public does not know who was responsible for those ads and we are only left to draw our own conclusions.
We join Andrew in condemning the cowardly tactic of hiding behind “issue committees” to circumvent campaign finance disclosure laws. However, only very wealthy individuals or a privately held corporation (such as Security National) can use this expensive tactic. Regular folks cannot afford it, and publicly traded corporations cannot easily hide behind the cloak.
Under current state law (flawed as it is) issue committees cannot finance recalls of our elected officials (as Maxxam Corp. did against District Attorney Gallegos). Issue committees cannot pervert the citizen's initiative process by paying petition gatherers to put something on the ballot (as Wal-Mart Corp. did in Eureka). Without Measure T, non-local corporations will continue to be able to do all of those things.
Andrew correctly points out that because of a flawed court ruling, issue advocacy in secret is currently “legal.” This ruling (among others) is wrong, and needs to be corrected. The best and easiest manner would be to change state law. We applaud Assemblywoman Berg for her courageous effort to do that. But the point is that court rulings must sometimes be challenged.
There was once a time when some people argued that the indigenous were not legally “persons,” that slavery was acceptable, that women had “lesser” rights than men, that trade unions were a criminal conspiracy, and that Jim Crow segregation laws did not violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Sadly, there was also a time when courts agreed. People (including courts and judges) can sometimes be profoundly wrong.
Thank goodness individuals and communities before us had the courage
to challenge these corrupt and abusive legal doctrines.
The U.S. Constitution should protect people when they exercise political and civil rights. Concentrated power and decision-making authority (whether concentrated in governmental bodies or private corporations) is certainly a source of potential tyranny.
Every person has the right to sign petition recalls and to contribute money to political campaigns. Measure T will not affect these individual rights. But individuals hold these political rights by virtue of their status as humans in a democracy -- and simply put, a corporation is not a person.
Let us heed the words of past presidents Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt.
”I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of monied
corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial
of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
”Let individuals contribute as they desire;
but let us prohibit all corporations from making contributions for
any political purpose, directly or indirectly.”
”Democracy is not safe if people tolerate
the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger
than the democratic state. That is the very essence of fascism.”
It would be hard to find three presidents (a Democratic-Republican, a Republican and a Democrat, respectively) who had such differing views on so many political matters. But they all agreed -- as do the overwhelming majority of Humboldt voters -- that corporate money in politics undermines citizen confidence in the integrity of our own government. It's time we start the process of reclaiming our county. It really is time for T!
To learn more about the campaign, visit www.VoteLocalControl.org or call 444-0407.
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap is campaign co-manager for Measure T. She lives and works in Eureka.
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