Democracy Over Corporations (DOC) Update by John Howell

Two projects have been the main project areas of DOC this past year.

The Bill of Rights Committees, both of Athens county and of Meigs county, grew out of DOC. Following the adoption of the Athens City Bill of Rights last year, the Athens group, capably led by Dick McGinn, garnered the signatures required to put a Bill of Rights on the county ballot earlier this month, while a group in Meigs County was doing the same. DOC assisted in that effort by sponsoring two Democracy Day events, one in Shade, OH, in June and one in Glouster, OH, in September. It also sponsored a presentation by Thomas Linzey, Director of the Community Environmental Defense Fund (CELDF) in November.

The Democracy Days were educational events in which local people explored how a charter could help address the threat of corporate exploitation of our region as a dumping grounds for fracking wastes. As Thomas Linzey explained, when federal and state environmental regulatory efforts fail, because government at those levels have been taken over by corporate interests, the only legal recourse is for citizens to make laws themselves through the initiative process. For that to occur at the county level, counties must adopt charters. These charters must be based on a bill of rights in order to require any legal challenges to provisions, such as prohibition of injection wells, to be forced to address the issue of people’s rights to clean water, health, and safety. Without the claim to these rights, such prohibitions will simply be declared by courts to be illegal by virtue of state or federal preemption by state or federal laws. The bills of rights give legal substance to the prohibitions that any court action will have to address.

This issue is part of a larger question as to whether citizens will have any say with regard to development in their own communities, or will have none. Without local efforts to resist, state and federal governments, under the control of large corporate interests, will dictate decisions which will exploit local communities and maintain corporate profits. Members of DOC have joined with the state-wide Ohio Community Rights Network to work toward legal changes both at the local and state levels. Without these changes, we will simply be colonized and controlled by multinational corporations.

DOC will continue to foster communication within SE Ohio regarding this matter, as the communities consider what steps to take next.

The second major project this year has been to produce videos related to corporate domination of public policy for educational purposes. As a member of Access TV, DOC has been able to use their facilities to produce educational videos. Two of them are currently available on the DOC website (democracyovercorporations.org). The first is a stirring presentation by David Cobb of Move to Amend; the second is an introduction to DOC by DOC members themselves explaining the issues the organization is addressing. Soon to be available are videos of Thomas Linzey’s talk and a presentation on monetary reform which was given by John Howell at the 2015 American Monetary Institute conference. This multi-video project is being led by Gini Coover and benefits from input from as many people as possible. If you are interested in helping to create useful educational videos, please contact her at ginicoover@yahoo.com.

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