Move to Amend shot down in Jackson again

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners once again declined to support a movement aimed at restraining corporate power, causing local activists to raise a joint sigh of frustration.

Move to Amend activists, a local offshoot of the Occupy movement, called on commissioners to pass a resolution of support for their cause — namely to reduce corporate money and influence in the political process and instead make government beholden to the common man.

At its last May meeting, commissioners voted 3-2 not to champion the resolution. Commissioner Doug Cody said that he wouldn’t vote for a resolution that singled out corporations unless it also included such groups as political action committees, labor unions and lobbyists and limited their campaign funding as well.

So, the group of activists returned Monday, June 4, with a slightly reworded resolution.

“This resolution is revised to take into account concerns mentioned having to do with labor unions, limited liabilities and PACs,” said Commissioner Joe Cowan, who had been in support of the resolution the first time around but was outvoted.

Cowan added that he would dispense with “my same old worn-out speech” about the importance of passing the document.

Despite the change, the outcome remained the same. Commissioners voted the resolution down once more 3-2 along party lines — Republicans against it, Democrats for it. Commissioner Jack Debnam, who is unaffiliated, swung the vote by siding with Republicans.

Cody asked the activists why the Move to Amend website has a few iterations of the resolution, including one approved by labor unions at universities. Why would labor unions support a resolution that limits their influence, he queried.

“If labor unions are included in on this proposed amendment, why are they signing on to support it? It seems counter-intuitive,” Cody said.

He also claimed that the Move to Amend’s platform would limit the amount of money candidates can contribute to their own campaign.

“This resolution would inhibit an individual from spending his own money. Is that the American way?” said Cody, adding that he funded much of his own campaign for commissioner.

Cody’s comments elicited groans from the vexed crowd of activists.

Cowan said he could not influence what was on the website, but the board should pass the resolution simply because of its call to place restraints on corporations’ campaign spending.

The goal of local Move to Amend activists, along with other chapters across the nation, is to spark a groundswell of support that could ultimately prompt Congress to pass a constitutional amendment limiting corporate spending in the electoral process. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited amounts in campaigns, prompting fear that politicians will become even more indebted to corporate money.

More than 250 cities, towns and counties in the U.S. have passed similar resolutions. Locally, town boards in Franklin, Highlands and Bryson City approved Move to Amend’s resolutions.

The state General Assembly recently introduced legislation espousing views similar to those reflected in the resolution.

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