A group of citizens in Brecksville wants the city to take a stand against the ideas that corporations are equal to people and money is equivalent to speech.
But the city is fighting that request, saying they don’t have that kind of jurisdiction.
The citizens group is aligned with the national Move to Amend, which is fighting some of the recent changes in campaign funding. According to its website, the organization wants to see a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating that “inalienable rights belong to human beings only” and that money is not protected free speech.
The Brecksville group collected signatures on a petition to get a ballot issue in November’s election. They got more than 1,000 in just a few weeks, enough to get them on the ballot, said Jack Petsche, one of the group’s leaders.
But the city has filed a protest, saying it is a federal, not local, issue that they don’t have authority over, said Law Director David Matty. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is scheduled to discuss the issue in a hearing on Tuesday.
Jack Petsche said the petition asks for actions that cities take all the time, calling for the mayor to send a letter to state and federal representatives in favor of a national amendment and for the city to plan biannual “Democracy Days” to discuss the effect of corporations, unions, political action committees (or PACs) and Super-PACs on the city.
“We need to stop the ability of corporations to run our lives,” said Rose Petsche, Jack Petsche’s wife who is also leading up the local Move to Amend initiative. Rose Petsche has been blogging about the movement on Brecksville Patch.
The Petsches learned about Move to Amend about a year ago after attending a speech at Cleveland State University. While Rose Petsche is a member of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Democratic Club, she stressed that it is a bipartisan issue. The group, which the Petsches said have about 10 core members, knocked on everyone’s doors, regardless of party affiliation, and asked passers-by at the library and Community Center when looking for signatures for their petition. Even if the initiative fails, Rose Petsche said she hopes they can raise awareness of the issue.
“At least we feel like we did something instead of just sitting around complaining,” she said.
Editor's note: This article originally said the proposed "Democracy Days" would be annual. The petition calls for biannual hearings. This has been corrected.