Sept. 16, 2014 – “Community Rights PDX Prepares to Launch a Ballot Initiative Campaign”

 Paul Cienfuegos’ September 16, 2014 Commentary on KBOO Evening News

(There were no September 2 or 9 Commentaries)

(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at,, or subscribe via ITunes.)

Greetings! You are listening to the new weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.

Last week, I shared some details about the eight active Community Rights campaigns that have been launched in Oregon over the past few years. Here’s a brief summary:

Eight Oregon counties are now moving forward with locally enforceable laws that will be placed directly before the voters, starting this November in Josephine County, where voters will have the opportunity to ban all corporate and government spraying of pesticides on forest and farmlands. Benton and Lane counties plan to ask voters to ban all GMO planting of seeds. Columbia County’s group is working to put before the voters a complete ban on coal and oil trains passing through their communities, as well as prohibiting the export of coal and oil from Port Westward near Clatskanie. Newer Community Rights groups exist in Yamhill, Lincoln, and Marion counties.

Here in Multnomah County, we also have a very active Community Rights group, which meets every two weeks, and which I co-founded with others in January of 2012. It’s much harder in a big city trying to decide which corporate activities are most dangerous and obnoxious to local residents.

Is it the endless new corporate big box stores that keep popping up? Or the hundreds of corporate cell towers still being proposed across the city? Or perhaps the thousands of local home-owners who have lost their homes due to illegal foreclosure proceedings by the banks? Or is it the dangerous oil trains that now pass through Portland every day?

Or maybe it’s the endless aisles of GMO food sold in grocery stores that are the biggest problem here? Or maybe it’s the Portland city government’s ridiculous, unnecessary, and imminent shutting down of our beautiful and historic open drinking water reservoirs, and the suspicious activities happening in the Bull Run watershed that many folks think is a sign that more logging is being planned in our drinking watershed. Or perhaps the biggest problem we face is losing our right of privacy, as

the NSA and giant corporations collect and aggregate and re-sell our personal information and email and facebook communications, without ever asking us first if we’re okay with them doing so.

The list is truly endless when it comes to corporate activities that are of great concern in any major US city.

In the near future, our Portland group intends to pick one of the issues I’ve just mentioned, and then we’ll be launching our own city or county-wide ballot initiative campaign – which as you can imagine will be a huge undertaking. Anyone can join us, once you’ve attended one of our monthly free two-hour orientation workshops. You can find out more about our Portland group at

Those of you who are listening to my commentary today may be thinking that this sounds like pure fantasy – the idea that a community can actually get away with prohibiting harmful corporate activities, rather than simply regulating and permitting them. But believe it or not, 160 communities in nine states have already passed legally groundbreaking local laws that ban fracking, water withdrawal for bottling, sewage sludge dumping on farmland, unsustainable energy development, factory farms, and so much more. All of these local ordinances create new directly enforceable rights for people and nature, and enshrine the inherent right of a community to govern itself, and to protect its own health and welfare.

Imagine your community learning how to do this.

And isn’t this a more empowering and compelling form of citizen participation then the endless pleading and begging of power-holders to stop the latest corporate outrage, that is our current form of citizen activism?

You’ve been listening to the new weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News. I welcome your feedback.

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