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LA City Council To Vote On Ending Corporate Personhood

Catherine Green |
December 1, 2011 | 3:24 p.m. PST

Assistant News Editor

Occupy L.A.'s has targeted corproate greed from the beginning of the encampment. (Catherine Green)
Occupy L.A.'s has targeted corproate greed from the beginning of the encampment. (Catherine Green)
Los Angeles could become the first city to formally revoke personhood status for corporate bodies if members of the city council vote accordingly next week.

A proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution would exclude corporations from "natual rights" and regulate contributions in elections to limit their influence on the democratic process. The text of the amendment includes a third section: "Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press."

The resolution is backed by Move to Amend, a coalition of organizations whose L.A. chapter opened in January of this year. According to the group's mission statement, Move to Amend works "to repeal constitutional rights for corporations and restore Democracy in the United States."

The targeting of corporate greed falls in line with the at-times amorphous demands of Occupy L.A. Whether this Tuesday's eviction will influence the council's vote next week remains unclear.

"I have no idea," said Daniel Tamm, communications director for Move to Amend. "I can't speak for them." But Tamm was optimistic about the resolution's chances.

"I think they'll recognize it's an historic vote and an opportunity to say something significant about not believing corporations are people, and that unfettered 'speech' in the form of unlimited numbers is a blight upon our democracy," he said.

Tamm was quick to highlight Occupy L.A. in a growing pool of endorsers, unsurprising given the amount of media attention the movement has garrnered in the last week.

"Even though they're no longer there, one of their chief aims, to shine a light on economic disparity, I think is going to be achieved," he said.

The list of supporters also includes organizations like Common Cause, L.A. County Federation of Labor and Physicians for Social Responsibilty. Tamm said Move to Amend is in the process of recruiting more advocacy groups and nonprofits to join the cause.

When asked whom he and co-chair Mary Beth Fielder are targeting, he pointed to groups that include "anyone who's dealing with ordinary, American, democratic rights. Those are the people who are natural allies, simply because this is a very deep, profound, longstanding right of American citizens—to be able to vote and to have their vote count."

"It is 'one person, one vote,'" he continued. "When you have wealthy corporations pouring unlimited amounts of money into the electoral process, you have obliterated that deeply held concept. You are stifling representative democracy."

The city council's online agenda doesn't list a relevant meeting for 10 a.m., Dec. 6, the time mentioned in Wednesday's news release from Move to Amend. Tamm said Council President Eric Garcetti's office confirmed the resolution would be heard that day before the full council. It's an opportunity council members shouldn't waste, Tamm said.

"This vote puts L.A. on record, and puts the resolution on the legislative agenda in Sacramento and D.C. This is a movement that's not just in Los Angeles —this is all over the country."

Reach Catherine here; follow her here.

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