Santa Monica might jump aboard the anti-corporate personhood bandwagon Tuesday night.
It will decide whether to join a growing list of City Councils across the country—Los Angeles among them—that have passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment proclaiming "human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.”
Made popular by Occupy Wall Street protestors who carried signs reading "I refuse to believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one," cries against so-called "corporate personhood" have been strengthened by a coalition called Move to Amend.
The coalition's primary goal is to encourage the passage of local resolutions that call for amending the U.S. Constitution “to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.”
The resolution up for consideration Tuesday by the Santa Monica City Council would oppose a landmark Supreme Court decision made nearly two years ago to the day. On Jan. 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, rolling back legal limits on corporate spending in the electoral process and affirming that corporations have the rights of “persons.”
The draft resolution written by Santa Monica city staffers for the council's consideration Tuesday night states that the Supreme Court decision has created an
unequal playing field and allows unlimited corporate spending to influence elections, candidate selection, policy decisions and sway votes, and forces elected officials to divert their attention from The Peoples’ business... in order to ensure competitive campaign funds for their own re-election.
In conjunction with casting votes on the resolution, the Santa Monica City Council will also consider joining another movement that aims to further rein in the rights of corporations.
It will weigh moving forward on whether to adopt a "Sustainability Bill of Rights" for Santa Monica. As proposed by a special environmental task force, the bill of rights would
- Authorize people—not corporations—"to sue to effectuate the rights of the natural world;"
- Subordinate corporate rights if they threaten sustainability; and
- Commit the city to meeting specified environmental goals by specified dates.
The idea for a bill of rights was born out of the "natural rights movement," popular mainly in communities in the eastern U.S. where hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as “fracking”) has been used to extract subsurface natural gas deposits.
The first local law recognizing the rights of nature was adopted in 2006 in Tamaqua Borough, PN. In December 2010, Pittsburgh became the first major city in the United States to adopt a community bill of rights that bans corporations from drilling natural gas within its city limits, putting the rights of people, the community, and nature over corporations.
A group of Santa Monica residents will stage a rally at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to urge the council to agree on both fronts. "Big corporations are dominating people, nature and our democracy," the organizers' blog states.
ALSO ON TUESDAY NIGHT'S AGENDA:
Costs for a few downtown projects will grow by more than $15 million, pending City Council approval.
The agenda for the night's regularly scheduled meeting include requests from planning staff to amend contracts for the remodel and seismic upgrade to the civic auditorium by $16 million; for the Palisades Garden Walk and Town Center by $992,247; and the Expo Light Rail by $740,000.
The biggest cost increase, for the new park across from City Hall, is the result of an error, staffers wrote in a report.
In June, they told the council that the cost of the project would not exceed $35 million. That figure did not include preconstruction and design services. The new estimate of $51.9 million includes those services as well allowances for inspections, testing and monitoring.
The Santa Monica City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 1685 Main Street.
To view the night's agenda in its entirety, visit the city's website.