Greetings! You are listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.
This week, I wanted to do a bit of an Election wrap-up.
No, not a review of the mostly awful results from state and federal candidate and ballot initiatives
across the country. You’ve already heard plenty about those election results.
This week, I wanted to share with you the status of the rapidly growing Community Rights
movement, which had six local elections on the ballot across the US – and we won two of them.
Not a bad average for a new social movement whose goals are nothing less than dismantling and
rewriting our nation’s structures of law that allow corporate “rights” to trump our rights.
There are now about 200 communities and two counties in nine states across the US that have
passed Community Rights ordinances since the year 2000. These nine states include Pennsylvania,
Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, and…… drum-roll
please….. California, which just joined this list, so let’s start there.
On November 4th, Mendocino County, California, on the far north coast of the state, passed a
Community Bill of Rights ordinance that includes:
- The Right to Community Self Government
- The Right to Clean Water, Air, and Soil
- Rights of Natural Communities and Ecosystems, and
- The Right to be Free From Chemical Trespass
67% of voters approved the new law, drafted by the Community Rights Network of Mendocino
County, which will ban corporations and governments from engaging in fracking. This is the first
Community Rights ordinance ever to have passed in California, and I’m feeling so proud of them,
because I’ve been teaching Community Rights in that county on and off since 1998.
In early October, they invited me back for an amazing get-out-the-vote RoadShow, where we
visited nine communities in just eight days. Every night a potluck, two or three speakers, and then
live music and dancing. It was a total blast. They’re already starting to discuss how and when to
begin drafting a second more expansive Community Rights ballot initiative that lays out an even
bolder vision of sustainability under law, and gives the county’s residents direct enforcement
authority.Our second stop today is back in our home state of Oregon, where the very first one of ten counties
that are mobilizing for Community Rights made it to the ballot box on November 4th in Josephine
County. This one was titled “The Freedom From Pesticides Bill of Rights”, which included:
- The Right to be Free From Chemical Trespass
- The Right to Pesticide-Free Air, Water and Soil, and
- The Right to Self Government
If it had passed, which it did not, it would have banned corporations and governmental entities that
hold an applicator license from engaging in the application of pesticides anywhere in Josephine
The Freedom From Pesticides Alliance campaign was outspent by corporate opponents eight to
one, so they had to struggle against the endless lies that were circulated around Grants Pass, Cave
Junction, and the other small towns in the county. CropLife, an industry front-group, was one of
the biggest opponents. The yes vote was 33% and accounted for almost 11,000 voters who saw
through the corporate haze, and supported the right of a community to protect its own health and
welfare from corporate pesticide spraying.
As with local Community Rights efforts in Ohio and Washington state – which have shown
incredible stamina – running their election campaigns over and over in the same community, and
building grassroots support year by year – the Josephine County group plans to move forward until
they win. All of us in this movement understand that our work isn’t just about stopping one
corporate harm at a time, but about structural change that strips corporations of their so-called
“right” to harm us. And this type of organizing can take many years.
Our third and final election stop today is in Athens, Ohio, which passed a Community Bill of
Rights that banned fracking, with 78% of the vote. Athens now joins other Ohio communities – in
Yellow Springs, Oberlin, Mansfield, and Broadview Heights – which had all previously banned
fracking. Sadly, three other Ohio communities that also had fracking bans on the ballot went down
to defeat – in Youngstown, Gates Mills and Kent.
That wraps up my first-ever Community Rights Election Report as a commentator on the KBOO
Before I go, I want to remind you that I will be leading my very affordable workshop here in
Portland this coming weekend. It’s called “We The People Are More Powerful Than We Dare to
Believe First Steps in Dismantling Corporate Rule”. Visit my website calendar at
PaulCienfuegos.com for more info.
You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear
future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News. I welcome your feedback.
You can subscribe to my new weekly podcast via I-Tunes or at CommunityRightsPDX.org. You
can follow me on twitter at CienfuegosPaul. You can sign up for my newsletter at
PaulCienfuegos.com. THANKS FOR LISTENING!
And remember: WE are the people we’ve been WAITING for