Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

MAINERS PUSHING FOR CORPORATE $$$$ BAN

State Senator Geoffrey Gratwick from Bangor talked about introducing a resolution calling on the state legislature to support a Constitutional amendment to ban big bucks in elections. His race last November drew $500,000 in outside money.  About 100 people attended the rally.
Before the Move to Amend rally began I went up into the Hall of Flags where the big heavy industrial developers and contractors were working the state legislators.  I stood with my sign for a half-hour and created a bit of a stir amongst the industry lobbyists.  When I make my protest signs I always try to connect as many dots as possible in just a few words.

I went to the state capital in Augusta, Maine yesterday to attend a news conference and rally for Move to Amend which is trying to ban corporate $$$$ that has been contaminating our elections since the Supreme Court gave Mr. Big "free speech" rights a couple of years ago.  Eleven states across the nation have either passed referendums or resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment to ban corporations from stealing our elections with their dirty money.

The show got started a bit late because they were waiting on a bus load of folks from Bar Harbor so I drifted upstairs into the Capital Hall of Flags that sits in the middle of the building and is used for many big rallies and political functions.  On this particular day the huge development and construction corporations occupied the hall and were giving free food to the legislators and public.  They each had big displays of their corporate 'rip and snort' technologies that are tearing Maine to shreds.  Cianbro, behind me in the photo above, wants to build an enormous "East-West Corridor" across Maine for corporate trucking, pipelines and power lines to move "resources" from Maine's coast into Canada.  There is an underutilized rail line already covering that route but these corporations eye the huge construction contracts that such a corridor would provide.

Farms, forests, ponds, rivers and animals would be in grave danger from such a project.  People along the corridor pathway are now organizing in opposition and have already slowed the process down.

The news conference and rally finally got started when 11,000 signed postcards from Maine citizens (in a state of only 1.3 million) were presented to the media.  (Statewide radio covered the event, some TV, but nothing in the newspapers this morning.  I wonder why?)

Several people made excellent statements.  I was particularly impressed with newly elected Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick.  He is a medical doctor who in November beat the incumbent Republican state senator in Bangor.  About $500,000 from outside groups poured into that one race - highly unusual for Maine state legislative politics.

After winning his seat Gratwick pledged he would make campaign finance reform a priority when he arrived at the State Capital. “This election points out the terribly destructive role of outside money on local politics,” he said. “Money that has no traced source is going to destroy our democracy. I take this seriously and one of my goals will be to change this process.” The money spent on political advertising “could better be spent on many of the things our local communities need,” he said at the time.

Yesterday Gratwick made a very strong pledge to work hard to pass a resolution in the legislature. 

In my town of Bath we are organizing now to request that our city council pass a similar resolution in support of a constitutional amendment.  So far 36 towns in Maine have passed such resolutions.  On February 21 we will hold a public meeting at city hall in Bath to discuss this issue.

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