Symbolic Napa council vote spurns high court decision on Citizens United

Members oppose ‘corporate personhood’
2012-11-25T21:35:00Z 2012-11-25T21:37:00Z Symbolic Napa council vote spurns high court decision on Citizens UnitedCHANTAL M. LOVELL Napa Valley Register
November 25, 2012 9:35 pm  • 

A month after it set a policy on how it would take positions on matters outside the city’s jurisdiction, the Napa City Council has taken a symbolic position on a federal court case.

Last week, the council voted 4-1 to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. The ruling, issued in 2010 by the Supreme Court, found that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals, the city said.

“I do not believe corporations are people or should be treated as individual people under the law,” Councilwoman Juliana Inman said. “If we could draft a corporation to go to war, I might feel a little differently.”

In July, a group of residents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, asking the council to issue a resolution in support of overturning the ruling that they said allows corporations to spend unlimited funds on political campaigns. Last week, three spoke urging the council to back the movement.

“We see Citizens United as an enormous threat to our democratic process by allowing corporations and donors to try to buy elections through unlimited funding,” said Conchita Marusich. “Though Napa has not yet been touched by corporations, we see a clear and present danger to Napa through this flood of money.”

Marusich and others said there have been instances when small-town elections have been bought by corporations and they believe Napa is at risk of falling victim to the same.

Councilman Peter Mott said while he is “generally hesitant” to take action on matters that don’t immediately impact Napa, he saw donations made in the most recent election by people who are involved in so-called super political action committees (super PACs) and sees the possibility that their influence could one day be an issue for Napa.

After hearing public comments on the issue for the second time, four of the five council members decided the issue of “corporate personhood” is a Napa issue, requiring only majority support to back a position on the matter, per the council’s new policy on taking positions on non-Napa-centric issues.

Councilman Jim Krider dissented without comment, and was the lone dissenter when it came to supporting the reversal of the ruling.

The rest of the council voted to support a constitutional amendment overturning the case.

“As a candidate, I wouldn’t want somebody independently spending money, interpreting messages I would want to send to the electorate,” Mayor Jill Techel said.

The city’s move follows that of California, which adopted AJR22, also supporting a constitutional amendment overturning the case. More than 20 local jurisdictions have also voiced their support through similar symbolic resolutions.

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(8) Comments

  1. kevin
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    kevin - November 26, 2012 5:09 am
    But it ok for public unions to take dues money without permission and donate it to Democrat candidates?

    California is not fiscally bankrupt because of corporate campaign donations! It is in trouble because of public unions.

    If the Council had included BOTH for condemnation it might have made sense, but this is just hypocrisy....
  2. freeport56
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    freeport56 - November 26, 2012 6:06 am
    Glad to see our City's far Left position against free speech and the First Amendment!
  3. glenroy
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    glenroy - November 26, 2012 9:02 am
    I don’t know how anyone with a 6th grade education, maybe a 5th… could be so oblivious…
    The public employee unions and their political allies, CA Professors, CTA, Trial Lawyers etc spent $100,000,000.00, One Hundred Million Dollars, opposing prop 32 which would have equalized spending for both union and business…in short they would have to obtain approval from the individual member or employee to spend their money. If that is not fair what is?...well the fact is...
    One hundred Million Dollars that came out of our pockets without ANYONE’S consent was spent to keep City Councils like the City of Napa… on a very short leash.
    The largest entity by far buying elections is public employee unions and that’s bad for everyone but the union bosses, bad for private sector unions who have suffered under Obama like never before, bad for job creation, bad for new business…bad for everyone else but them.,
  4. Carol Whichard
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    Carol Whichard - November 26, 2012 11:21 am
    Congratulations Napa City Council!! And for those of you who think unions are the problem...Unions are not the problem. I'm a Union member. I live here and I pay taxes here. I work hard to support my family. I'm not the problem and I'm sure not the enemy! The rich created the problem and they're pitting middle class families against each other. I thank god Unions share my voice because all alone I don't have one. Corporations are not people. Corporations don't vote. Unions don't vote. People vote! Again...thank you Napa City Council.
  5. napablogger
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    napablogger - November 26, 2012 3:12 pm
    Kevin, maybe California wouldn't have so many budget problems if corporations paid their taxes here, yet with all the lobbying they are doing they can skate out of too much of them. Things are not just one way or the other, and right now the unions are way behind the corporations in their clout to get things done. Citizens United tilted the playing field too much toward the wealthy and corporations.
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    REPUBLICANKID - November 26, 2012 3:21 pm
    Cool the Streets and sidewalks are fixed.The city is now also running in the black.
  7. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - November 27, 2012 8:31 am
    What a waste of time by the city council. They should be concerned with the business of the city. If the city wanted to vote symbolically they should have included the unions. As a former union member the unions always promoted the Democrat candidate and never even considered looking at each candidate as an individual. If the candidate had a D after their name they automatically got union support. The unions pour millions of dollars into Democrat campaigns. When's the last time you ever saw them support anyone from another party? If the unions used that same money to help the workers with a better health plan or retirement plan that money would be better spent than on a political campaign.Unions survive for the benefit of the union official. Ever see a union official lose pay during a strike? Nope, just the workers lose pay.
  8. freeport56
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    freeport56 - November 28, 2012 11:12 am

    California is almost $1 trillion in debt, a full 50% of that is Unfunded liabilities. California had the best school system in the country until Gov. Moonbeam created Public Employee Unions. Continually increasing wages and benefits have put Local and State government in the Red. Looks like San Bernardino will be the next city to fall. many more will come after that. Our States main problem is spending, it is like a drug addiction with them. Liberal Democrats cannot stop spending. Brown got his tax increase, but he will never see the full amount he wants. Remember Arnold did the same thing and revenues dropped. Amazing, it only took 42 years of Democrats controlling our Legislature to destroy California!
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