Occupy Newport members asked the Lincoln County Commission today to put an advisory issue on the November ballot, one that calls for the end of U.S. Supreme Court declared “Corporate Personhood” and an end to what they term an obscene amount of money entering America’s election campaign races.
Occupy members Rio Davidson, Bill Montgomery, Ann Miller, and Stephen Farish shared their thoughts that mostly centered around the rise of corporate political influence in the country and its success at reducing government regulations in general and certainly in the area of campaign finance; the Citizens United case in which the high court determined that corporations are people and that their money is their protected free speech. Occupiers decried corporations hamstringing environmental regulation enforcement and how corporations have exhibited destructive economic tendencies throughout America’s history which has been the subject of stark warnings against corporate over-reaching, written by former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
County Commissioners asked how all that might relate to the Lincoln County Commission finding such a topic as being a legitimate interest to the commission and to the voters of Lincoln County. All Occupiers attributed some less-than-optimal aspects of Lincoln County life and government status to the collapse of Wall Street, the crashing of the economy, the near halt of timber production, rising poverty in Lincoln County and shrinking school budgets for starters, all attributable they claimed as coming from the rise of American Corporatism as the expense of the American middle and worker classes.
County commissioners were also told that Occupy has already collected 300 county voter signatures in support of putting an advisory issue on the November ballot. County Counsel Wayne Belmont said whether it goes on the ballot lies strictly in the hands of the commissioners, and that only the commissioners can put the issue to a county-wide vote. Even collecting over a thousand voter signatures won’t get it on the ballot without the permission of the commission.
County commissioners said they would review the materials presented by Occupy Newport and hopefully decide next Wednesday, June 20th, as to whether they’ll go along with Occupy’s request. Belmont reminded Occupy that they could ask the commission for a Resolution of Support to call attention to the issue. A resolution is only a statement about the position of the commission, a sort of “sense of the board,” which of course does not involve the voters.