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Final Resolution on Corporate Personhood

Establish as a position of the Portland City Council that corporations should not have the constitutional rights that natural persons possess, that money is not speech and that independent campaign expenditures and campaign contributions should be regulated (Resolution)

 

WHEREAS, each year, the City of Portland updates its Federal Legislative Agenda; and,

 

WHEREAS, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are intended to protect the rights of individual human beings also known as "natural persons"; and,

 

WHEREAS, corporations can and do make important contributions to our society, but the City Council does not consider them natural persons; and,

 

WHEREAS, while state and federal governments may provide certain privileges to corporations, these privileges do not equate to the rights of natural persons protected by the U.S. Constitution; and,

 

WHEREAS, the right to free speech is a fundamental freedom and unalienable right and free and fair elections are essential to democracy and effective self governance; and,

 

WHEREAS, United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in a 1938 opinion stated, "l do not believe the word 'person' in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations"; and,

 

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court held in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) that the appearance of corruption justified limits on contributions to candidates, but rejected other fundamental interests that the City Council finds compelling such as creating a level playing field and ensuring that all citizens, regardless of wealth, have an opportunity to have their political views heard; and,

 

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo overturned limits on independent campaign expenditures by individuals, associations, and political action committees because it found that the government's interest in preventing corruption or perception of corruption of elections was sufficient only to allow limits on direct contributions to candidates; and,

 

WHEREAS, United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens observed in Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC (2000) that "money is property, it is not speech,"; and,

 

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court recognized in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) the threat to a republican form of government posed by "the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public's support for the corporation's political ideas" and upheld limits on independent expenditures by corporations; and

 

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission (2010) overruled the decision in Austin and the portion of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003) that had upheld restrictions on independent corporate expenditures, holding that the First Amendment protects unlimited direct corporate spending to influence elections, candidate selection, and policy decisions and to sway votes; and,

 

WHEREAS, prior to Citizens United decision unlimited independent campaign expenditures could be made by individuals and associations, though such committees operated under federal contribution limits; and,

 

WHEREAS, given that the Citizens United decision "rejected the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently" because the First Amendment "generally prohibits the suppression of political speech based on the speaker's identity," there is a need to consider other reasons in addition to corruption or the perception of corruption regulating independent expenditures for or against a candidate; and,

 

WHEREAS, a February 2010 Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80 percent of Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United ruling that allowed use of corporate treasury dollars for independent expenditures; and,

 

WHEREAS, the opinion of the four dissenting justices in Citizens United noted that corporations have special advantages not enjoyed by natural persons, such as limited liability, perpetual life, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets; and,

 

WHEREAS, corporations are legally required to put profits for shareholders ahead of concerns for the greatest good of society while individual shareholders as natural persons balance their narrow self--interest and broader public interest when making political decisions; and,

 

WHEREAS, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Oregon Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, and Kurt Schrader are pursuing campaign finance reform legislation with a focus on addressing Citizens United through amendments to the United States Constitution; and,

 

WHEREAS, addressing both the Citizens United decision, and corporate personhood is necessary; and,

 

WHEREAS, the City Councils of Missoula, Montana; Boulder, Colorado; and Madison, Wisconsin have referred the issue of corporate personhood to their communities for an advisory vote;

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that it is the position of the Portland City Council that corporations should not have the constitutional rights that natural persons possess; and,

 

BE IT FURTIIER RESOLVED given its impact on free and fair elections and effective self governance that Portland City Council determines that the most urgent action needed to address the negative impacts of United States Supreme Court Citizens United (2010) decision is to stop unlimited independent campaign expenditures by corporations; and,

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Portland hereby includes in its 2012 Federal Legislative Agenda support for an Amendment to the United States Constitution, which consistent with this Resolution, reverses the impacts of Citizens United, including, but not limited to the provisions of the current drafts of S. J. Res. 29 introduced by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and SenatorJeff Merkley of Oregon and H.J. Res. 72 introduced by Representative Kurt Schrader of Oregon and co-sponsored by Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio of Oregon; and, respectfully urges Oregon's Congressional delegation to prioritize congressional proposal of an amendment to the United States Constitution addressing the threatsto representative government identified in this resolution so that the states may ratify it; and,

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Portland City Council requests that the City Attorney's Office determine the legality and process of referring an advisory vote to the citizens of Portland on the issue of corporate personhood, and present their findings within 30 days to the Council for further consideration;. and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Portland calls on other communities and jurisdictions and organizations like the U.S. Conference of Mayors and National League of Citiesto join with us in this action by passing similar Resolutions.


Table of Contents
Vending Carts Regulations brochure (pdf)
2013 Span of Control Report (pdf)
Captioned video of Council hearing on Blood Donations and HIV precautions, September 2013
DHM Oregon Opinion Poll 2013
Department of Justice Settlement Agreement
Resolution on Zoning Confirmation Letter, Oct 2, 2013
Right to Dream Too Zoning Confirmation Letter, for Oct 2 hearing
Street Musicians Agreement FAQs
Street Musicians Agreement (pdf)
Occupancy/rental taxes on hotels, rental vehicles, etc.
Adopted Protected Sick Time Ordinance 3/13/13
Adopted Protected Sick Leave Code
Metro Fact Sheet on the proposed Oregon Convention Center Hotel
Statement on proposed Public Utility District, 7/18/13 (pdf)
Comments on Parks and Development Services, one month into my assignment
Corrected Comments at the vote on the 2013 - 14 Budget
Comments at the vote on the 2013 - 14 Budget
Ordinance creating the Office of Equity and Human Rights, 09/21/10
Job Posting 3/15/13, Administrative Assistant/Constituent Services Specialist
Adopted Protected Sick Leave Code 3/13/13
Helen Moss OpEd in the Oregonian on why Sick Leave is needed now
Task Force Issues Summary
Protected Sick Time Code proposal 2-28-13 (clean version)
Protected Sick Time proposal 2-28-13 showing changes since 1-18-13
Sick Leave Task Force Meeting 3 Notes
Sick Leave Task Force Meeting 2 Notes
Agenda, Earned Sick Leave Task Force Meeting 2
Sick Leave Task Force Meeting 1 Notes
Earned Sick Leave Task Force members
Memo to Venture Portland members on Earned Sick Leave (pdf)
PSU Economists' Analysis of Earned Sick Leave costs and benefits (pdf)
Proposed Sick Leave Code
Proposed Sick Leave Ordinance
NW Parking: Phased Implementation (Exhibit C)
NW Parking: Amended TMA Structure (Exhibit B)
NW Parking: Additional Amendments to Map Boundary
NW Parking: Amended Resolution
Adopted Principles for Budget Advisory Committees
Public Involvement Advisory Council
City Budget Office proposed Code changes
City Budget Office proposed Ordinance
3-1-1 Resolution passed 10/10/12
Link to article commenting on Harvard fluoride study
Substitute Resolution on Coal Trains, 9/19/12
Statement of Intent for improvements in Portland Police Bureau policies and practices, and the City's care for people experiencing mental illnesses, 9/13/12 (pdf)
US Department of Justice Findings in Investigation of Portland Police Bureau, 9/13/12 (pdf)
Comments at the Fluoridation vote, 9/12/12
Open Reservoir Work Session Follow-Up Storage Volumes
Open Reservoir Work Session Follow-Up 08-27-12
DRAFT Summary of current City payments of County services
Library District Budget Impacts
Office of Equity and Human Rights Powerpoint Presentation
Office of Equity and Human Rights One Year Work Plan
Letter to the OLCC from Nine Portland-Area State Legislators
2012 Spirit of Portland Awards Nomination Form
Ordinance Related to Licensing Exterior Areas
OLCC Exterior Areas Petition Document
West Portland Crossroads Report by Patty Lee
Council presentation on Portland Harbor from March 28, 2012
Final State Legislature Summary, 3/7/12
Sidewalks Data
PBA Letter on Downtown Marketing Initiative funding, 2/12
State Legislative Update 2/17/12
Team statistics for the 2009 calendar year
State Legislative Update
Final Resolution on Corporate Personhood
Speech from Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen
Cox v. New Hampshire 1941 U.S. Supreme Court decision
Letter from CFO Rich Goward Regarding City Investment of Funds
Office of Equity and Human Rights Seeks Director
Report from the 1st International Conference on Age-Friendly Cities, Dublin, Ireland September 28-30, 2011
Letter to the Postmaster General
Office of Equity and Human Rights
Response to NECN regarding Last Thursday, 7/28/11
Safer PDX Report Powerpoint
Mid-project Presentation to Council, Safer PDX
Proposed Office of Equity Work Plan, 8/17 Public Review Draft
Proposed draft Equity Office creation ordinance, 8/17 public review draft
Garbage Rates and Options, October 2011
East Portland Expo Program 2011 (pdf)
State Legislative Update 6/30/11
Technology Oversight Committee Application information (pdf)
State Legislative Update 6/24/11
State Legislative Update 6/19/11
State Legislative Update 6/10/11
State Legislative Update 5/28/11
Reports on Equity/Disparities
State Legislative Update 4/29/11
BOEC (9-1-1 Center) 2011-12 Budget Advisory Committee presentation
Equity Office Concept - DRAFT 3/22/11
Equity Office Concept - DRAFT 3/22/11
3/3/11 Update on siting of Wireless Antennas in neighborhoods
Video of Portland Broadband Strategic Plan kickoff session
Biographies of 2011 Charter Commission members
Mayor Adams's response on Human Trafficking statistics and the real problem we face
2011 Charter Commission process Q & A
Appointees to the 2011 City Charter Commission
2011 Charter Commission Appointment Resolution
Sidewalk Management Citations Data, June - August 2010
Resolution on Broadband Strategic Plan, 9/22/10
Summary of Proposed Portland Alcohol Impact Area
OLCC information on Alcohol Impact Areas
National Women's Health Week Project Report
Sidewalk Management Plan updates
Planning for SW Parks
Comments on West Hayden Island Resolution 7/29/10
Amanda's Amendments on West Hayden Island Resolution 7/29/10
Public Safety bond referral
Process for review of Cellular facilities in neighborhoods
Schools/Parks Amendments 4/28/10
Memo to Council on Schools/Parks Code project
City report on 2010 Oregon Legislative session
Central City Concern - spending taxpayers' money wisely
Report on Central City Concern's program effectiveness
Tree removal and construction on I-5 in SW
2010 Regional Graffiti All-Stars
Tibet Proclamation
Neighborhoods in the News, Summer/Fall 2009
Dirty Duck Demolition Permit remarks
Human Rights Commission statement on Aaron Campbell shooting
Questions and Comments on Bull Run Land Exchange and new Bull Run Code
US Postal Service letter on schedule for changing address from 39th Avenue to Cesar E Chavez Boulevard
Water Bureau Fulton/Willamette Park Pump Station
Independent Police Review Dec 2009 Quarterly report
Status of the Columbia River Crossing Bridge
Willamette Week article on Riverfest 2009
Potential Health Impacts of Wireless Facilities
Report on Prostitution Advisory Committee on 82nd Avenue (pdf)
Winter shelters information
Sharing Public Spaces Report
Visit with Gateway Area Business Association
Comments on Bull Run water treatment options, 7/27/09
Community Discussion on Sharing Public Spaces, 7/21/09
Community Discussion on Sharing Public Spaces, 7/18/09
Comments on Proposed Stadium in Lents Park
Statement of Concerns on Major League Soccer
Hayden Island Plan
My first 100 days
Report on the Office of Healthy Working Rivers
City Auditor Report on the City Government's Financial Condition
Office of Healthy Working Rivers organizational meetings
The Great Soccer Debate
"Made In Oregon" sign
Progress on defeating Graffiti
Radon Awareness Month