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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Kids in the Hall

Down with corporate personhood! Give us Occupy costs!

by Sam Inglot

Tuesday, August 6 — Pushing back against corporate-influenced politics was the theme of Monday night’s City Council gathering.


Roman Collins, coordinator of a local chapter of Move to Amend, is asking the Council to approve a resolution condemning the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, in which corporations were given freedom of speech protection for political campaign contributions.


Move to Amend is a national organization pushing for a constitutional amendment banning the use of money as free speech. The group says money is used by corporations to unfairly control American politics.


Collins said if the Council were to approve the resolution, it would be the first local legislative body to do so in the state.


Council President Brian Jeffries asked that the resolution be tabled to allow City Attorney Brig Smith to rework the language. At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood said earlier in the meeting that she would support the resolution.


Speaking of fighting corporate interests, the Council heard from the Ways and Means Committee on costs the city incurred related to Occupy Lansing. Members of Occupy Lansing had requested that the Council investigate the claims by the administration that the group’s occupation of Reutter Park last year cost the city money. The report was not readily available.


Ways and Means chairwoman A’Lynne Robinson said she had received the information from the administration on Monday at 4:30 p.m. She said the committee had requested the information on May 31 and again in a letter to Mayor Virg Bernero on July 26. Wood was quick to criticize the delay.


“It’s sad it took the chair writing a letter to the Mayor’s Office and then the ‘threat’ of a committee report to get the info at 4 p.m. Monday when we’ve been asking for this for a couple weeks,” she said. “They had figures ... and here we are again at the ninth-hour receiving the information.”


Copies of the administration’s report, which spanned from October to December, were not readily available. Robinson highlighted a few costs — like the roughly $5,200 for trash and clean up crews — but said aspects of the report still need clarification, citing additional revenue sources from parking meters and tickets near the park.


Robinson said the committee would “continue to explore the numbers.”

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